I feel some guilt writing about struggle during this time of year where everyone is off from work and taking it easy. It seems that the world has heaved one collective sigh of relief, and exhaled all their stress and anxiety in that breath.
I am sitting in a Starbucks on December 25th in the morning, because nothing will stand in the way of my cup of Joe, and to my surprise, this place is busier than a train station during rush hour.
I guess (I am not the only addict) perhaps, as much as we want to put all of life’s challenges and worries aside, they still gnaw at us and don’t let us really sleep in late, even on a day when we are “supposed” to focus on ourselves and families and leave our troubles outside. So people find themselves keeping some of their usual routines at the only establishment open on this quiet day.
I am taken back to a conversation had with someone close to me going through a very difficult chapter in their life. Ironically, it was at this very same Starbucks just a short while ago that this conversation took place.
Without compromising the rules of Rabbinic Hipaa laws, one spouse is facing some very unexpected challenges in life, things that are so unusual and upsetting, that even a fantasy writer would be hard pressed to come of with such incredible circumstances to make a person struggle. At this same time, this person’s spouse is batting medical issues, may they have a speedy recovery.
After chatting for a bit about all the ails of this person’s life, asked, simply “how is your spouse holding up with all this?”
That answer given, was a wonderful, deep and bittersweet response; “We are like two broken trees, that have fallen onto one another and are thus holding each other up.”
As beautiful as that was in its romantic poetic-ism, it highlighted something I have always known but struggled to find the correct wording for.
Everyone, literally everyone has something to contribute to this symphony called life. All of us, at one time or another find that life has broken us down to the point that we wonder if it is worth the struggle. We are too beaten down to do any lifting; Lifting of ourselves, much less the lifting of another.
Yet, even a broken tree, cracked at its base, if leaning into and onto another, even a broken other, can actually help them stand up.
The idea is profound, it means, not only do you matter when when feel/think you are down and out. In fact, sometimes the only way you can be that supportive tree is because you are broken. A healthy tree, won’t bend over to support another struggling tree. Only one that feels it is broken at its core will get out of itself enough to to be there for another.
I think that is the real joy and special-ness of this quieter time of year. When we are not just enjoying the down time, but when we can really enjoy, or at least accept the time that we are down.