big, little, and the deep valley between

June 3, 2010 at 6:34 am Leave a comment

On Memorial Day we headed down to our favorite cafe and it was closed. But…. since Nathan has worked there on and off for ten years, and since we are about as regular as they come, we peered through the glass door, beckoned to the few figures moving about inside and were graciously allowed in to the haven of coffee and bagels. The lights were kept dim, to ward off would-be customers, and the mood among the five or so folks was subdued, and sleepy.

We nestled in to a back booth with lattes, markers, and a huge sheet of paper. Heaven. It was as though time did not exist, like we were a floating misty bubble of existence, untouchable by the outside world. The hazy, quiet environment, and trance-like state of drawing, encouraged unusual conversation and I found myself asking bold and simple questions of a woman I have known for years, but had never known much about, and she, to her own surprise answered them frankly.

When did you last see your parents? 1996

Do they disapprove of you? No, I don’t think so.

Are they mad? My mom is.

Are you sad about it? At times, very.

And your Dad? Is he afraid of your mom and does whatever she wants? Kind of. But I think he defends me to her and she doesn’t like that.

Does your mom know you? In the big picture, yes. In the small picture, no.

The Big Picture and the Little Picture. It kept coming up in our conversation. The idea of the Big Picture was soothing to my friend, because in that world her mother loves her, knows her as a pure spirit. In the Big Picture my friend is happy, content with the “work” she is doing in the Universe. But in the Little Picture, she misses her mom, wants to call her on Mother’s Day and isn’t welcome to do so. The Little Picture is sad.

A couple of days ago there were some developments in our lives with relationship to the custody of one of the girls, one that was not welcome and it sent me into a spiral of discontent and woe. I have had dark feelings of despair and frustration, wanting to throw in the towel, wanting radical change, and suffering from clinging to ideas of what I thought was going to happen instead. And then I noticed that when I checked back in with my feelings later I found they had changed. At one point I was giddy, simply because Echo and I had changed the hamster’s cage around and were giggling while she scurried about trying to figure out where to stash the food.  At another point my feelings surged with hope, not about custody issues, but about the little Robin’s egg we found unhatched and unharmed in the middle of the street. Little things were making me happy. My Little Picture isn’t sad, but then my Big Picture isn’t either. I realize I have more than a “Big Picture” and a “Little Picture”. There is something in between, and that is where I find pain.

The Little Picture contains this moment, the hamster cage, my deliciously cute little girl squealing with delight, the morning light coming through the window, a warm jar of tea. The Little Picture is do-able, it’s increments are small and fleeting. And if the moments within the Little Picture aren’t enjoyable, they quickly change and become something else. In the Little Picture I am just fine.

The Big Picture is Mother Earth, evolution, heaven/death/reincarnation, glacial speed, and light speed. The Big Picture is comforting in its vastness. There are no minutiae, no quarrels, no room to take issue with what’s happening, no reason to. In the Big Picture everything is perfect and just how it should be. In the Big Picture I am also just fine.

But the Middle Picture gives me trouble. The Middle Picture is where custody issues and co-parent disagreements live. Bills live here too. My hopes and dreams live here, the things I want for myself and for my daughter live here. All the things that don’t fit into the tiny view of the milli-moment of the Little Picture, or get lost in the grand view of the Big Picture, settle in this murky, and sometimes grim, zone.

It helps to jump into the Little Picture, or seek refuge in the Big Picture, but the Middle Picture doesn’t go away.

Maybe I’m wrong. I’m sure a spiritual advisor would tell me everything is Little, or Big. “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff”, kind of thing. But it doesn’t feel that way. At times the worries and concerns of the Middle Picture occupy every corner of my mind, filling me simultaneously with rabid hunger and almost drug-like fatigue.

Entry filed under: life lessons. Tags: , , , , .

wordless wednesday it takes a village to keep parents sane

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