“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.“– Thomas Merton
My hubby Bill and I ran with our running club, the Lancaster Road Runners, last Tuesday night on the Northwest River Trail near Marietta, Pennsylvania. The trail, a 14-mile paved path which hugs the Susquehanna River, is a perfect place to do a long run and I have trained for many marathons there.
It is relatively flat, the scenery is beautiful, and there are many good restaurants in Marietta, where you can treat yourself to a craft beer after your run if that is your inclination.
It was our inclination after our run, so we enjoyed some laughter with our friends and many good running stories along with our post-run libations.
When we got home, I stepped into the shower before donning my pajamas. I don’t take too many showers at home; I usually shower at the rec center after my workout each morning.
While lathering up, I happened to glance down at the corner of the shower walls. I saw a small, delicate, pale spider, struggling to stay out of the shower’s spray.
I have a somewhat unusual love for spiders. I admit: I am an arachnophile. When I run the vacuum, I clean away only the dirtiest cobwebs and try to steer clear of the spiders who inhabit them.
I figure those spiders must live on something. The mental image of spiders hard at work, ridding my house of bugs while I sleep is somehow comforting.
There have been some past instances where I tried to save spiders from a watery demise. My efforts usually do not work out too well for the spider. What typically happens is that either the spider runs away from my advancing hand, into the stream of water and gets washed down the drain, or if I am successful at catching her (I always think of spiders as female), she actually drowns from the residual drops of water on my skin.
This time, exercising considerable restraint, I patiently tried to wait the spider out. I directed the nozzle as far away from the spider’s corner as possible and quickly finished washing and rinsing.
As I looked for the spider after I finished, I was horrified when I could no longer find her. “Oh, no!” I thought, “Despite my best efforts, I accidentally washed her down the drain.” I frantically scanned the corner from top to bottom and finally found her at the intersection of the corner of the shower walls and the floor, a little bedraggled, but waving her legs in what I took to be a menacing manner.
She spun out some silk, and climbed six inches, then repeated that maneuver several times until she was back at her cobweb just above the shower tile.
It was a victory for both of us, the spider and me; she escaped the harrowing experience with her life and I remembered the value of patience. I was also reminded that I can’t fix everything, even though I would like to.
I have always thought of myself as a helper. Although I know it is impossible, I would like to make the lives of my loved ones stress-and-disappointment-free.
My husband and children could describe many examples of the times I intervened in their lives, trying to fix a problem for one of them. Most times, just like the spider, they really don’t need my help; they just need some time to figure it out for themselves.
I understood intellectually that no one’s life is without setbacks and sadness, regrets and sorrow, but for some reason, it took a long time for that concept to sink in emotionally. My family members, thank heavens, have developed their own coping mechanisms for dealing with hardships, and that’s a really good thing.
Being the perpetual fixer was exhausting. Believing that I was in charge of everything resulted in an awful lot of anxiety. It finally began to dawn on me that I had to let go of my fixer role. The fixer had to be fixed.
I’m not going to tell you that I have undergone a complete metamorphosis, but I have made some progress. I had to make the distinction between being helpful and supportive and trying to make everything right all the time for everyone around me.
My friends and family deserve the right to experience the normal ups and downs of life, to suffer from their own disappointments and exult in their own triumphs.
One piece of advice I have given to my children many, many times over the years is that each person is responsible for their own happiness. I need to listen to my own advice. They are responsible for their happiness, not me.
Since I have made the conscious effort to fix my fixing habit, I find myself listening more and talking less. I am inordinately proud of this fact.
One of my daughters-in-law calls me often, which I enjoy. Sons (or maybe it’s just my sons) are not always as communicative as I would like. Sometimes we just chat about whatever pops into our heads in a stream-of-consciousness conversation. Sometimes she talks to me about problems with work or relationships. I bite my tongue to keep from giving unsolicited advice.
She recently observed a milestone birthday. Friends and family gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate. There were speeches and stories featuring the birthday girl, after which she thanked all of us for our love and support. I had to turn away so she didn’t see the tears welling in my eyes when she specifically thanked me for listening to her for hours. She didn’t realize how much joy those conversations bring me.
As much as I would like to smooth out the bumps in life’s road for my loved ones, I understand it’s best to support, rather than fix. The same approach works best for spiders in peril, as it turns out.
The Fab Four said it best almost 50 years ago when they sang the immortal “Let It Be“. Give it a listen!
I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team and Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Anita Ojeda for Inspire Me Monday, Jenn @ Runswithpugs, Brandi @ Funnerrunner, Anna Louise @ Graciouswarriorprincess, Briana @ Matsmilesmedals, Meghan @ Meghanonthemove, and Elizabeth @ Trainwithbainfor RIOTS(running is our therapy), Esme Salon for Senior Salon, The Ched Curtain for Say Cheese, Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, My Random Musings for Anything Goes, Purposeful Faith for RaRa, Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday, Hooks and Dragons for A little bit of Everything, and Mary-andering Creatively for LMM.