The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen
When you know exactly what to say, it’s a nice surprise.
When someone else knows exactly what to say to you, it’s magic.
When someone says exactly what you need to hear without knowing that you need to hear it, it’s divine.
Deus Ex Machina.
Whenever the latter rolls unexpectedly into your life, to be anything less than starry-eyed seems disrespectful. The struggles and situations and obstacles that override the peace in our lives can either get the best of us or they can bring out the best in us. Life never signed a peace treaty.
Last week, I lost so much. I also earned a great deal. After a tough 2 months recovering from an injury in April that left me with 5 broken bones and 11 metal pieces to put them back together, I was told that I wouldn’t run for a year. An email on Wednesday morning told me that I had lost quite a bit of money in the stock market that was meant to be my parents’ retirement fund. All of it was like falling down at the finish line. It was failing to finish the race I had started, and was on track to win. It was failure. The failure was not only reflecting on me, but my inability to give my parents the retirement fund that I had been planning for the past three years. It was my body’s failure to make me what I always was; a runner. And now it is all gone.
So the tears came. So did the first surprise, from of all people Oprah. Yes, Oprah and Starbucks. As my friend got me out of the office and a coffee into my hand I told her the story of my morning. I took the time to actually see what was in my hand. On the face of my split-pea soup colored coffee sleeve was a quote:
“No experience is ever wasted. Everything has meaning.”
Broken bones, the things that have made me feel so stuck, have given me the opportunity find someone half a world away to enrich my life, and to realize that slowing down is what allows for those amazing people to catch up to us.
Lost plans, the things that have made me feel so insecure, have made me realize that there is now endless potential for me to enrich lives in ways that the money-blinders wouldn’t let me see.
Then came the magic. When I got home that evening, I had a letters in the mail from my mom and a dear friend who I have grown up with and watched grow over the years. The envelope from my mom had a little, silly magnet tucked inside. “A Hug From Me To My Daughter,” it said. That “hug” was worth more than any amount of money I ever had or lost. And a hug back was all she wanted–not a retirement fund. A rectangular piece of cardboard fell out of the card from my friend. It was one of those cutouts that the green tea companies stamp on to their boxes to make them more inspirational. I guess sometimes marketing ploys work. There was a drawing of a horse (the animal that my 5th-grade-farm-girl-with-a-bowl-cut-and-a-slight-obsession-for-Seabiscuit-self never grew out of loving) and a few lines written on it. “Endurance: With her enduring strength and unrivaled perseverance, the horse demonstrates to us that even the heaviest of burdens can be carried with grace.” That word endured more than any amount of miles I have ever run.
Heavy burdens feel so much heavier the first time you experience carrying them. They don’t get lighter, you get stronger.
The definition of grace is, “smoothness of form or movement.” No one is smooth doing something that they have never done before. No one can do something they have never done without moving to get there. The grace comes from the experiences.
And the experiences come from having the courage to make tears into stars.