Friday, October 13, 2006


I'm stealing this idea from my best friend. She called from a train crossing the Midwest yesterday, and in our discussion she said something that struck me. It was in response to my observation that her relationship with her husband seems easy. She laughed at the idea, and said "No, it's more like I suck all the comfort out of it that I can."

This is how my friend deals with most things, and one of the reasons I like her so much. She'll happily interrupt my overwrought ponderings on all that is wrong with life to point out how delightful her cup of coffee is, how the mug she's drinking from is just the right kind--chunky ceramic spacious enough for a bowl of soup. I see her suddenly--in a window seat, 8 months pregnant, smiling at strangers--and suddenly my world shifts to just about perfect. If only for three or four seconds.

I set before myself the task of sucking the best out of everything. This is her idea, and she gets all the credit.

I've always been serious. I have a school photo of myself when I was about 8 years old. I'm not smiling, my brown hair hangs flatly on either side of my pale face, and my eyes say something akin to, "Please, I'm not going to smile for you. I'm at a low-income public school with a bunch of heathens, and you're a stranger." That was my basic take on elementary school, and all things new and uncomfortable. Although I still approach life seriously, my defenses have softened. Mostly. But I still have a hard time with those things outside of my control. Just the parts of life that refuse to correspond to my expectations. In short, the kinds of things that constantly are happening.

But beauty is exactly there, in events that make little sense, follow no comfortable pattern, make me awkward and miserable. And even in those things--the things I've wanted to forget and run from--is my salvation. In the opportunity they provide to taste life fully, to draw out from it all the comfort I can, and to discard my expectations. I am again reminded of the verse from Isaiah 30: In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength.

So, back to, um, sucking.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Don't say the word "sucking" to someone who has been breastfeeding an infant every 1-3 hours, around the clock, for 4 weeks straight. (Yes, that means I have not really had more than a 3 hour sleep interval for 4 weeks). But truly, the sucking reflex that infants are born with for survival is remarkable. Just minutes after she was born, the nurse plopped her on my breast. I barely even knew what was going on, but she started to suck noisily, with gusto, smacking her lips and making everyone in the recovery room laugh. Maybe us adults just need to get back to the basics of what we were born with.