The Unimaginable

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
- Mary Oliver

This quote from Mary Oliver showed up on my Facebook feed earlier today, and it's been on a sort of rolling boil in my mind since then. I guess I've never thought to do that before (leave room for the unimaginable), but now that I consider things, it's wise counsel for all of us, cynics and idealists alike.

After three weeks of not blogging a single picture or word, this will be my third post in a 24-hour period, so it's a marked difference.

(I'd like to make some kind of declaration about how I'm going to be more committed or how I've come up with a new/improved approach to keeping this record up; I'd like to make a declaration like that mostly for myself, as a personal charge. Ultimately, though, I'm not gonna make any promises. There's no point. I stopped writing because I was floating between "bummed out" and "depressed" for a while, and when I'm in that place, keeping up with a blog isn't the most important thing, and if it's not the most important thing, I'm not going to pretend as though it is. Ergo, no promises about future post frequency. I'm here now, and that's all I've got.)

I get a wee bit overwhelmed by life sometimes, and since I live a really easygoing, uncomplicated life right now, the fact that I'm overwhelmed makes me seriously worried about the future when things will actually get tough (and yes, that worry does contribute to the overwhelm-ity of it all -- what a tangled, messy web). My primary issues right now are (1) a medical condition that, as part of its batch of fun, makes it next-to-impossible that Craig and I will conceive a baby at this point, even though that is what we most want in the world, and (2) religious/spiritual/existential meltdowns that I undergo every so often.

With the first one, there's not a whole lot I can do to fix things; there are some things I can do, and I am doing them with as much positivity as I can muster in any given moment, but it's not a "take this magic pill and be on your way" kind of problem. I would elaborate if I felt up to it, but I suppose the details don't really matter in this venue.

As for the second issue ... I know that there are loads of people in this world who aren't continually stressed about their relationship with God, who don't second-guess themselves daily about religious belief, who don't battle with the idea of "truth" to the point where they can't sleep and have to finally get out of bed at 4:00 AM to write a meandering blog post. There are people like that - I'm married to one of them, I'm the child of two of them, I'm a sibling or friend to dozens more. I'm guessing that the vast majority of people on this planet fit into the category of "people who are basically okay and/or totally satisfied, most of the time, with however they view spirituality and religion." And that's cool and everything, except for I'm not in that category and I feel a little weird about it. To me, faith is serious business, so I treat it seriously -- I have no qualms about that. Still, I'm increasingly sure that something I'm doing in this department is unhealthy and, therefore, unwanted. I know religion isn't all peaches and sunshine, that there are some serious questions to ask and sacrifices to make, but nevertheless, religion is typically presented as a source of peace in a troubled, troubling world. I would love for my faith to be that sort of sanctuary for me, and sometimes it absolutely is, but it's also got a lot of angst attached. When I say "my faith," I'm not talking about my specific church group or the particular doctrines I was raised with; I'm talking about the whole enchilada of my personal faith, how my conscience, my history, my doubts, my hopes, my worldview all combine into one hodge-podge. That is the thing that I would like to be a comfort, but it is mostly a ball of tightly-packed stress these days.

Anyhow, I know this has been really scatterbrained (I haven't slept -- see above), but my point is this: I can't imagine these two things finding a resolution. I mean that literally, as in "My imagination doesn't contain a day when these problems are fixed." It seems, in a way, like this is just the reality of my life and I've gotta deal. That's true, to a point -- it IS the reality of my life, at the moment, and I do gotta deal -- but my imagination doesn't include much hope for a change.

So this advice from Mary Oliver, to keep some room in my heart for the unimaginable? It was needed. I can't imagine the solution to these woes that beat up my mind and heart and gut, but my imagination has limits; maybe there are events on the horizon that can heal me, even though they're beyond my view. I can at least keep my heart open for that possibility.


  1. I am having a crummy, depressing couple of days; days where you don't want to do anything but you also don't want to do nothing. And I want to call someone, reach out, but I also don't want to call someone and reach out. Oy. But I really like this post. It made me think of Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling." If you're not familiar with it, it's a series of musings/ explorations about faith, in general, and the Abraham and Isaac sacrifice story, specifically. One of the things that really came out for me in Kierkegaard's version of things that I never saw as strongly in the biblical version is how seemingly ridiculous, how very audacious Abraham was. He believed that he would kill his child but also that this same child would bring him seed as promised. I will kill him, and he will still, in this life, soon, rise back up and give seed. I'm not saying any of this nearly so eloquently as Kierkegaard does, but there's some degree of faith there that I have never come even close to -- that he would unwaveringly believe something completely extraordinary, even unimaginable. I have had some miraculous things occur in my life -- the fact that I'm still alive, for one -- but still, I look at my life in such a here-and-now kind of way, as if I can't even remember that I am doing things NOW that were unimaginable just 5 years ago when I almost died in a car accident, or 12 years ago when my body was just completely breaking down and I was wheelchair bound. As I write this, I'm thinking what a silly person I am. Someday I'll learn my lesson, right?

  2. Ah, I can relate to much of this!

    Thinking of you, my dear.

  3. sorry you are going thru such a difficult time! here's to finding bits joy and happiness in life regardless of troubles (although, admittedly, way easier said than done).

  4. Sara,

    I'm sorry things haven't been going how you would like. Life can be daunting. I want to say something inspiring, but since I'm not very wise I'll tell you what I know for sure. You are a beautiful, kind and wonderful person. Probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever met and so fun to be around, It makes me smile that I get to be related to you.

    One day when I was having a really tough day during a really depressing time, I asked my mom why I wasn't getting happy and why life was so tough. Her response stuck with me, she said, "Sometimes life is hard so that we can handle it when it gets harder." It definitely was not what I wanted to hear, but it helped as I thought about it.

    Anyway, I hope things start seeming less daunting for you. We love you and are thinking of you. If you need anything, let me/us know.

  5. I wish I didn't, but I do know how you feel. On both levels. I think you and I are so very alike and I wonder, sometimes thoughtfully and sometimes self-pityingly, at why our lives have turned out the way they have. But I like that we are so alike and think so alike, it definitely makes me feel less alone in the world to read your blog posts.
    Obviously, at the time being, I have no idea how to help either of us. I just want to let you know that as you deal with everything you've got a friend (albeit a silent, observing, across-the-country, blog-stalking friend) who thinks about you a lot.


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