I’ve always been a girl who was good at angsting. I’d worry or fret or just focus on big things all too often right from the start. In those moments my mom would look at me and say, “Val… When’re you going to learn to lighten up?”
I never received the words particularly well.
It wasn’t until I was a grown up and she was gone that I finally had a witty quip to say back to her. I stole it from Meredith Grey: “I’ll lighten up, when I feel light!”
It’s pretty obvious I haven’t felt very light in quite a long time. Life has been heavy. I’ve felt heavy. Even regular old ho-hum humdrum days have had a heaviness to them lately. Emotional stuff, and health stuff, and church stuff, and changes occurring stuff. They all put me in a heavy as a brick or a massive Wyle E. Coyote-smashing anvil kind of mindset.
I’ve even thought to myself, “Val. You need to lighten up.” A few times. And I’ve of course quipped back, “When I feel light, already, ok?!”
I took a walk tonight. It’s the time of year when all the plants that have ‘fuzzy things that fly’ are releasing them. The dandelion clocks are out in full force, but also the thistles, cottonwoods, and the stinging-nettle type plants are multiplying via fuzziness. I love to watch the white downy puffs flit and flip through the air. I even saw one rolling along the ground like the world’s tiniest tumblin’ tumbleweed tonight. They’re just beautiful.
I envy their lightness. They are exquisite in their lightness.
As I walked I thought about the feelings of ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ and about how one of the reasons I’ve stayed in ‘heavy’ mode is that it’s where my mind is tuned to. I spoke with a friend about the ‘ungrateful survivor’ stuff I was writing about yesterday. She’s survived cancer and losing a parent to cancer herself. We both agreed that we have a hard time involving ourselves in ‘light’ things these days. If it’s not ‘heavy’ it doesn’t feel substantial enough for us to care about. She suggested I spend some time with really positive people who would make me forget about the tough stuff for a while, even if that felt challenging.
She’s right. As I thought about it all sometimes lightness… Just good old-fashioned lightness and fun and good humor can be good.
Tonight I saw thistle-down shedding itself and I thought to myself–Darn it… If a prickly old thistle plant had a ‘lighter side,’ then surely I should be able to find mine too.
It reminds me of my friend at the Lemonade Stand. She’s survived all kinds of mucky heavy things and one of the things she’s done almost as a discipline is write about and share things that are funny, light, or encouraging. I just love that about her.
That got me to thinking about cultivating a ‘discipline of lightness.’ What would happen if I practiced such a thing? Just like habits of cleaning certain things each day, or planning my meals every day, or reading God’s word every day are habits that create discipline that create character in me… Maybe there could be something to the idea of ‘practicing lightness.’ I have a feeling I’ll discover pockets of holiness there. I have a feeling it just might shift the way I’m seeing things right now.
Besides, I won’t be out-done by a thistle-plant!
So I think I’m going to try it. I’m going to try to spend 30 minutes of every day practicing the discipline of lightness. I’m going to giggle with my girls, blow bubbles, have tickle fights, listen to silly music, read jokes, watch funny movies that don’t have a ‘heavier point.’ I’m going to twirl with my baby and play peek-a-boo. And I’m going to do it for at least 30 minutes every day.
I have a suspicion that it just might be an exciting experiment–one in which I will find new ways to stub my toe on holy.