May 14, 2020
So I fully intended on writing this yesterday. Things got kind of hectic at my house. Today was going to be more productive. But still, there were many things that needed to be done before I could sit down and clearly write. So forgive me for being late today and absent yesterday. Sometimes life gets in the way.
One thing I know is that life doesn’t always follow a plan. Well, we’ve talked about that before. Every time I have a plan come together something happens that reminds me that there are other mitigating circumstances influencing the outcome. I’m simply not as in control as I think I am.
Sometimes terrible and ugly things happen upon our lives. For no reason or fault of our own, life happens. C’est la vie! As a friend of mine recently put it, life is life and sometimes, we’re not good at it! That’s probably the most profound thing I’ve heard in a long time.
Sometimes life is hard because of bad decisions. Sometimes life is hard because of a thousand little waves culminating in a large crash. Sometimes, we’re just not going to win. There is never a simple line to trace to show us exactly where things went wrong.
I was watching one of my favorite movies recently that reminded me of this. Steel Magnolias has been an inspiration to me for years since! Every time I watch it I find a little bit of myself in those strong, fragile, complicated women. Every time though, it gets confirmed more and more that I’m slowly (or maybe not so slowly) becoming Ouiser Boudreaux! I mean, it could be worse!
If you’re laughing at the thought of me being a 70 year old smart mouthed southern curmudgeon who only plants a garden because it’s what people my age do, then you’ve obviously spent enough time with me to know my true personality.
My favorite Ouiser quote:
Truer words have never been spoken.
Other than Ouiser’s great one liners Steel Magnolias is story about learning to live in a imperfect world. It’s a story about grief, about overcoming obstacles, about joy shared among friends, and a celebration of life no matter how difficult it turns out.
One particular scene is very much ingrained on my mind lately. (Spoilers ahead in case you haven’t seen this gem of a film) As M’Lynn and the gang gather around Shelby’s grave and M’Lynn begins to sob and scream and grieve, she shouts out loud “No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way! I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I just wanna *hit* somebody 'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna hit something! I wanna hit it hard!”
M'Lynn’s reaction to her grief feels familiar. I’ve been so devastated that I could think of was how unfair it felt that other people didn’t feel the way I did. It just wasn’t fair! Grief is not fair!
M’Lynn is all of us at one point or another in our lives. C’est la vie, right?!? Life is not fair. But one of the genius things about Steel Magnolias is that M’lynn, Ouiser, Clairee, Truvy, and even crazy ol’ Annelle never went long without finding a way to laugh or smile in the midst of incredible pain. Shortly after M’Lynn finishes her painful outburst of frustration, Clairee offers a solution: “Here! [grabs Ouiser by the shoulder and positions her in front of M'Lynn] Hit this! Go ahead M'Lynn, slap her!
The shock of the whole exchange breaks the tension. M’Lynn looks gob smacked at Clairee and Ouiser and just before you think she might actually hit her, she start laughing. Soon the whole group is laughing and smiling and finding peace and comfort in each other.
The important lesson here is that the others didn’t try to tell M’Lynn her grief responses were inappropriate or unreasonable. They agreed. They let M’Lynn hurt, they let her express the feelings of futility and anger of grief. They let her be raw and truthful to her pain.
Then they reminded her how to laugh at the absurdity of it all. They brought back forgotten joy and gently encouraged M’Lynn to be mindful that yes, life is pain. But life is also beautiful. C’est la vie!!!
I’m reminded this week through many circumstances that life has a way of bringing t mind forgotten joys. In my own grief I have spent many days in anger and disbelief. But all I need is one quirky, derpy look from my dog to remind me that life isn’t always this serious. It’s ok to laugh! It’s ok to remember better days. It’s ok to feel joy again.
I leave you with this quote by Howard Thurman: “Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.”
Do not neglect the memories of better days. They will bind you together when you feel like falling apart. Grieve as you need, but laugh as you ever you did before!
Love and Light!