Monday, November 5, 2012

The Crucial Ingredient


Hmmmm, so just a few days past I gave notice to my preconceived absence, a month working on a novel anticipated to take up much of my free time. (wait, is there such a thing?)  Yet then, there occurs the unexpected....the conversations which fuel the thoughts which lead me here. 

A phone call.  Someone close to me, separated from her spouse, fighting her way through a new world of two jobs and daycare and lonely single parenthood.  Long talks in the past of ifs and maybes and might-have-beens....but now there is only...now.  And she mentions that she recently asked him, "Why?"  Perhaps the most important question--while somehow being simultaneously the most insignificant as it applies to life now because no matter WHY, we are indeed now...here.  We clutch at the why to justify and explain and soothe the now that is here....when really the why is often a Ferris wheel of rationalizations that leave us blinking in the glare of fairy lights, unsure where the beginning or the end might be.

The why can be lethal.  It can eat at you, endlessly gnawing at the edges of the reasons you once told yourself.  The reasons that made sense.  In this cake we are all baking--the life we are writing as we open our mouths and pen the words that sketch the picture within that we live...the ingredients matter. 

Time.  Dear God, the author of such, time is the blood of life.  Giving time, taking time, putting aside time.  The vampire that is the twenty-first century is poised, clutching the edge of your tattered calendar, fangs sharp and at the ready.  Beware lest he wrench that which you love away.

Thought.  Oh yes, acknowledge the power of the mind, for it stands between you and the emptiness that awaits just over there...just past uncaring  and self-centeredness.  Somewhere beyond "I didn't know" and before "I don't care" lies a terrible black swamp of "I forgot."  O ye who have no ears...

And the most crucial of ingredients...

Ah, time and thought are excellent beginnings, the magnificent starters of the race.  Look, their legs so long, their muscles strong....but do you know who wins the final lap? 

Effort.  The sweaty companion that doesn't sit down, doesn't rest.  Effort is the one who takes the thought and makes the time.  He pushes past "I'm tired" and "what now" and thrusts himself to the finish line of "it matters."


"He didn't really want to be married...it was too much work." 

I shudder at the world I see being built around us.  Where the tower of a lasting relationship is replaced by the motel 6 of convenience.  Where it seems many would rather pitch a tent....than get dirty, scrape some knuckles, and lay the stones of a foundation. 

It's not just her or him--this story has been written in the marrow of husbands and wives and children.  It is not a matter of gender or age, but within the skin of us.  I ask you today to just pause amidst the pulse of your life, the rhythm you've become accustomed to.  Assess your time, your thought, and your effort. 

You, alone...measuring the ingredients.


No one wants the cake to fall. 


 

21 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

make that cake and eat it too

Freckled Philologist said...

Amen. And if that special ingredient is effort, then maybe I have a chance my cake won't fall, even if it's a second cake and the first one is a mess.
Thanks for the call to lasting and worthwhile pursuits. Best wishes as you progress with your project. There are many of us rooting for you!

Shea Goff said...

You.

I swear.

You always amaze me, stun me. You hit home.

I hope you never stop writing.

Shelly said...

That why, so sparkly and attractive on the outside, lures its victims into a malignant quagmire. As you so eloquently said, the knowledge becomes worth much less that the pushing through; the persevering.

You are a good friend to help your friend pull her feet out of the muck and keep herself moving.

Robbie Grey said...

The way you define why is what I use in my context as if only or woulda, coulda, shoulda. That, which can drive you mad if you allow for it.

Stunning, as always...

Dee said...

Dear Chantel, this posting truly made me stop and think and consider a question I have in which I've been wondering "Why?" And you are so correct that why is a quagmire. Now, I'll begin to examine the effort I've put into the relationship bounded by this question. Thank you. Peace.

Chantel said...

Prairie--lol!

Mary--many of us have a fallen cake in our past, such is life and learning. However, I think the one you're making now is going to be scrumptious...with flowers on the icing. Six layers tall...and chocolate ganache and buttercream and... :)

Shea--and you make me smile so often! xo

Shelly--we've all spent a little too much time on the why at one point or another; discovering your own why can be of value if you can learn and grow from it, perhaps avoiding repeating a mistake. But the whys of others that have hurt/left/abandoned you are just a cancer, better left untouched.

Robbie--so well said, and thank you!

Dee--I do so wish you the peace you seek, may your efforts be well invested and rewarded with joy. xo

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow. That is all.

Mary Kirkland said...

You know, it doesn't matter if you have a fallen cake as long as you patch it up and try to make it presentable before eating it.

We've all had cakes that have fallen, but as long as you try to pick those crumbly pieces up and make the most of it, at least you tried.

FrankandMary said...

Years back a rather, uhm, non-achieving, friend of mine was staying at my home(she had no funds & no job). After about the third day of Meditating..which she seemed quite good at, my dad asked her why? why days of meditation? She said for atonement. The next day my dad said: Ok, we get it, you're sorry...now when the hell are you going to get up & actually DO SOMETHING? ~Mary

Slyde said...

unfortunately, this is far from an isolated story.

people just think that their marriage is too much work, and they think their lives will get easier if they end things.

Neither situation will bring them happiness...

Brian Miller said...

really a great post...and reminder to do those assessments...we need to do that regularly ...and not just ourselves fooling ourselves...if you really want to know ask those you are in relationship...it may hurt a bit but they will usually tell you if you sincerely ask....

Chantel said...

Bliss--lol, I do love you so!

Mary--I know what you're saying, I just think many don't realize that putting in the work BEFORE things fall apart is actually much easier than fixing them or starting over after they do, you know? We don't seem as willling to really put the effort into our families and lives in general...makes me a bit sad.

Mary--lol! "non-achieving" made me crack up. :)

Slyde--it's funny though, everyone I know who seems deeply satisfied with their marriage says, "we had some really awful times." They just didn't give up. It seems that as a society we're looking for easy answers, microwavable romance and instant parenting--when truly these things take a lot of investment, planting the seeds that grow into something beautiful. There I go rambling on again...

Brian--you're so right, the first step is really wanting something better than mediocre--even if it means facing that you're part of the problem. :)

The Loerzels said...

Unfortunately, the it's the same story over and over again. I'm surrounded by friends getting divorced here. Just got another notification from another friend she's looking for a lawyer just last week. And you're right, effort wins the race, cause god knows staying married and even better yet, being happily married aint' easy.

BamaTrav said...

Cake? Mmmmmm...I love cake. It tastes good.

Mom et al said...

I don't have the time to peruse blogs much these days, but somehow I always find my way back to yours. How I do so love your writing.

Mel Heth said...

I hope you plan to publish the novel you're writing this month because a whole book full of this kind of writing just sounds like a dream. So beautiful.

When I went through a series of breakups before I was married, I always wanted to know the Why. I felt like if I could know that piece, I might be able to make the next attempt at love more successful. Now I believe that on some level, we always know the Why - even when we don't ask what it is.

Susan Struck said...

We are all capable of being such selfish creatures.

The Path Traveled said...

Cakes need some sort of Power to cook and rise!
I am so blessed to have been married to the same gentle and loving man for 38 years.

Slyde said...

i really do love the way you write....

and the way you look, but you know that already...

Chantel said...

Marie--amen. And amen again. Why is it so many cannot figure this out? It's parenting and employment and marriage...it all takes work.

BamaTrav--lol, cake is grand!

Maria--I have MISSED you so! Thank you and come back soon--I'm 47,000 words into a 50,000 word novel and swear I will write something funny over the holidays!

Mel--you're so right. The why is usually the glaringly clear thing...but accepting it, ahhh--therein lies the catch. I believe we invent whys...easier ones. Only to wake years later and realize what we've lost--the truth of it all.

Susan--very true, I am so guilty!!

Path--contratulations!! 38 years is amazing, truly!

Slyde--lol, you do make me smile. :)