Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lessons, lessons and more lessons

      I woke up angry this morning. That doesn't usually happen. Usually I wake up appreciative of the morning quiet, the morning dark, the time when I can lay in bed and think, or pray, or meditate for a few minutes before starting the day.  But this morning I woke up angry.
      Yes, there is a reason.  I post a lot of stuff on Facebook about the constant challenges we face, and we were given more yesterday.  I paid someone to put in new linoleum in our fixer-upper kitchen.  This was supposed to be a one day job, but the man didn't finish.  That's fine.  However, after he'd left and I walked into the kitchen, I saw that there were two dents/rips in the middle of the new linoleum. I paid through the nose to have this professional install a new, beautiful, clean kitchen floor, and it is wrecked before he is even finished with it.  I know how these things go...I will whine and complain, but be told that because I didn't notice it while he was still standing there, that there is "no proof" that he did this, and that "too bad for you - it is what it is."  I know this is how it will go because this is how it has been going for us with every stumbling block we have faced throughout the move.
    One example: the movers (Stephen's, in case you want to know who NOT to use) lost several expensive items in the move: my daughter's bed, my son's camping tent, an expensive large set of pruning sheers, the legs to a table that had been made especially for me, our hand truck/moving dolly, our wagon, a broom and upright dustpan, etc. None were small.  None (except the broom and dustpan) were cheap. And when we wrote to the company and said these were missing, we were told "Too bad for you.  You didn't notice they were missing as they unloaded the items.  You didn't notice they were missing while the moving guys were still standing in front of the truck, so you are out of luck." Really? Because I just didn't have everything that was in our house so thoroughly memorized that I would notice at the moment that three men and several helpers were moving stuff that these particular things weren't among them.
     Another example - I have had a hard time enrolling the kids for school out here, especially my daughter who is now enrolled in an online program. It has been a challenge for a variety of reasons, but they are now enrolled and attending schools here. Part of getting them enrolled involved UNenrolling them from their schools in Ohio and requesting official transcripts to be sent to their new schools, etc. I did all of that, however, and thought we were good to go until yesterday I received in the mail an official letter saying that I was about to be arrested for not making my kids attend school in Ohio.  Apparently my kids are "truant" because they are living and attending schools in CA and not in Ohio any longer.
     So, as I said, I woke up angry.  And then I opened my computer and I saw that my good friend, Sarah, had posted this on Facebook, "When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression." And I stopped.  The reality is that the stupid stuff I seem to deal with every day is just that - stupid stuff.  I am not in a war torn country. I am not fleeing for my life because of oppression or threats or violence.  I am not a refugee somewhere without work or food or a place to live. While the linoleum guy may not listen to me because I'm female (an experience I've had with other house workers and especially with car repair people), I know I still have the unfair privilege that comes with being born white. I have enough to eat. I have a lot of "stuff", most of which is a "want" and very little of which is an absolute necessity.  I have a lovely house to live in, even if it does need work. I am surrounded by family and friends and a wonderful church community who is helping me fix up the house, and care for the kids, and transition to this place.  I have work that I enjoy (and that is not something to take for granted, or something everyone has by any means).  I have three lovely, healthy children.  My parents, aunts, uncles, sister - all my family except grandparents are still living. I am incredibly lucky.  I won't say I'm "blessed" because I think God loves all of us and blesses all of us in different ways. I have to acknowledge that much of what I have is "privilege".  I was privileged to be born to a middle class family.  I was privileged to be raised in a way that valued education.  I was privileged to be born white. I am privileged to have good health in my family and in my own being. I was privileged to have my schooling paid for and to be able to worship how I want and to be able to speak out in this format about anything. And while I strive to be aware of all that I have to be grateful for, sometimes I forget that it is a privilege to have all that I have.  It is not a right. And while I will stand up for myself about the linoleum, if I am not successful, I will need to still be grateful that I have it at all. "Equality feels like oppression." Well, if I am honest, there is no equality.  I am far more privileged than most of the world. Than MOST of the world. It isn't even equality when I have to deal with this stupid stuff.  It's just little daily challenges. I am still incredibly privileged. What do I honestly have to be angry about?

    There are days when I wonder why so many challenges come my way.  I wonder why we had to go through hard stuff in Ohio and then why the move had to be so very hard.  I wonder why, daily, I have these lessons in patience, forgiveness, compassion, and presence. There are times when I would prefer to simply have a nice easy year, or month, or week, or even just a nice easy day or two.  But that isn't what I have been given in this life. Instead of ease, I've been blessed with lessons.  Instead of travel and wealth and luxury, I've been blessed with opportunities to learn. I've been given lessons that call me each and every day to be grateful, lessons that call me to breathe through those hard moments and to stay present in the now, to keep my eyes open for the good, lessons in being quiet and creating peace within so I can help spread it without, lessons in being patient and in waiting each day to see the gifts that will come, lessons in learning to trust and learning to forgive, lessons in letting go of anger and of the past and sometimes, of people I've loved.  Every day there are lessons. and for today, the biggest of those is to accept and be grateful that those lessons are the blessings I've been given.