When I was about 10 years old, I decided I needed to begin my autobiography. I was determined that my life would be worth reading about, and that I would forget the tiny details that would change the big picture later on. I decided I needed to begin writing down every single detail of my life, and that I had to start that day.
When I was growing up, my mother taught me to cook early on, so after age 8 or so, often when I asked what was for dinner the answer was “catch as catch can.” In other words, my mom and I would make separate dinners, or I would cook something for her, or she would cook something for me. There was rarely a plan. It was kinda just a “wingin’ it” thing.
On the particular day I decided to begin my autobiography, my mother was making dinner. And she started in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve never been good with surprises – giving or receiving. Also, I decided that the meal we were going to have for dinner was a pivotal detail for my autobiography. Like, if the world didn’t know what I had for dinner on some night in the middle of some month at an age that I’m not even sure I remember exactly, then it wouldn’t understand me. I pestered my mother endlessly for hours, before she finally broke.
“IT’S PIZZA” she yelled finally, and I cowered from the room. Perhaps this is something I’m adding from recollection, perhaps I didn’t realize this until years later, but at that moment, I think I realize how significant it was that she was doing this. Because as my mother she was supposed to care, and give and serve. That’s the motherly role, right? And I was so impatient, so narrow-sighted, so careless and detail-driven, that I pushed to find out what the surprise, what the gift, was.
That’s when the gift broke. It was still a gift. It was still something made from care. But part of the gift was the surprise of pulling pizza out of the oven and seeing the joy on my 10-ish year old face.
How often do we do this? I mean, there are so many times when people are doing nice things for us. Helping, giving, sharing. Yet it seems within our human nature to ruin things. Perhaps because inwardly we are broken, so we feel a need to break things around us.
I challenge you to open your eyes. To look around you. To see the beauty in everything in your life. Even if your life is in pain and sorrow, realize the beauty in that. Realize the perfection in imperfection. See the shapes of the dark clouds, or the glory the sun brings to the flowers. See the sizes and shapes of structures, of mountains, of hills, of valleys, of flat-lands. Because in everything there is beauty. In everything, there is a gift.
This post is dedicated to my mother, whose 62nd birthday would be today.