Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 5/19/2008 [Archive]

This So Called Life

This So Called Life

By Martha Randolph Carr

There are entire belief systems built around the idea that before each of us showed up in this lifetime we agreed to certain parameters. We decided we would have these parents in this country and this body. The theory says, we actually had a hand in setting up the playing field in order to learn certain lessons and eventually return to the ether enriched. I've noticed this leads to a lot of pondering about what benefits were seen in being the shortest or the slowest or maybe even unable to stand at all. Even those of us who operate on a slightly different set of beliefs will stop and wonder, what benefit would I have seen in that?

Frankly, when I'm reminded of the cafeteria style of heaven I get stuck at the part where we agreed to come at all. It's not because I'm sorry to be here because I'm thrilled and more every day. That alone is an accomplishment because I've noticed how much a large number of people lament just the aging process. This group isn't gathering more joy with each day; they're shedding it like a skin.

What I'm looking at in amazement is that we agreed to a game where we wouldn't know the outcome of any of our choices, wouldn't even necessarily know how to reach the next step, would have to spend more time trusting what, or who, we can't see and success would be equally as stomach churning as failure and both are unavoidable.

That's right, both triumph and disaster happen all the time even though we plan and scheme at times to avoid both. We buy life insurance just in case and then end up having to cash it in when our spouse quietly dies and we're left having to figure out entirely new routines. That's the part that aches, the small moments that we didn't even notice and can't get back. We're grateful for the insurance, one less thing to worry or wonder about, but it didn't prevent the disaster of no longer being able to move through the morning knowing with some certainty what was going to happen next.

We humans love certainty and yet agreed up front to a lifetime that was going to be filled with just the opposite. Okay, but why?

Here's the answer I've been working on: to learn on an ever deepening level that we are loved because we exist, not because of all of those definitions we picked out. The definitions were just the means to keep figuring out that same answer over and over again.

That's why success, the flip side, can be just as tumultuous. We get some prize we've been working toward, take a breath and feel great about how we got to this point and find out people may still dislike us, not even want us around. Then life interrupts with the need for more choices and the process starts all over again. Still don't know what could happen next and well, the field is wide open. More trust is required, more faith and off we go again. There it is, that piece that says if you're really going to live you're going to have to keep trusting and let go even as life gets bigger, more complicated.

Not trust that something else exists, but again that we are loved. It has taken a lot of work to believe that me, with my long list of imperfections is loved so completely by anything or anyone, but that's the hidden grace. There was never anything to prove. All of the labels were set up so that I could see it didn't matter if I chose to need glasses or really love math. All boils down to the same answer. Makes it easier to ask for help, to drop the need to always be right and to give beyond what I'm comfortable giving. Doesn't mean life isn't still full of painful moments, just means somewhere in there I'll feel the love again.

I've often thought that when we finally get back to the other side we'll all have a good laugh over what we worried about and marvel at the times we stepped out in a really big way with nothing but faith that something bigger had our back. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group:

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