Choosing to suffer

A friend of mine recently posted a video on Facebook.

This video seemed to be some kind of veterinarian (Dr. Andy Roark) speaking at a veterinarian conference, about veterinarian things.

Only, those things were applicable to all of us and I found that his message really stuck with me.

He began by speaking about the different between joy and happiness.  That joy is fleeting; it’s unsustainable.  It’s an amazing feeling, and it’s often why we do the work we do, but it’s just a glimpse.  And happiness is “full of pain.”  He said, “Buddhist philosophy says that life is suffering.”  It made me think of the far more lighthearted quote from The Princess Bride.

 

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It’s true.

But I had heard all this before.  The part that got me was that he said, “The best thing that we can do is choose how we suffer.”  He went into an example of losing a beloved pet, and how much grief and suffering that caused him.  But it was suffering he chose, and would choose again.  He said, he could have chosen not to get a dog to avoid the suffering of eventually losing him, but he would’ve suffered a little each day coming home to an empty house.

And that’s when I got it for me.

Right now, I’m suffering.  I’m struggling.  Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m happy…but, by this guy’s definition, this is happiness.  It’s not JOY all day every day, (which is what too many people think happiness should be) but that wouldn’t make for a very meaningful life, for without suffering there is no joy.

There was one time when I was really breaking down about what a shit time I’d been having slogging through mommyhood, and someone said to me, “…but you’ve chosen this.  You wanted this.”

Yes, I’ve wanted to be a mom pretty much my whole life.  I wasn’t sure I could physically be a biological mom for an entire decade, but miraculously, here I am.  I planned this, I actively participated in building this life.  And man is it HARD.  Did I want all the suffering that comes with this?  Of course not.  I don’t want it and I don’t like it, but I chose it.

I chose it over the suffering of not having kids.  Feeling like there was something profoundly missing in my life.  Feeling like my family was incomplete.  Grieving the loss of kids not here.  Having a house that was too big, too quiet.  Too clean?  (Maybe there’s no such thing as too clean.)

Make no mistake, though: just because I chose the suffering that comes with raising kids, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to do just that…suffer.  Complain.  Lament.  Break down.  Have regrets.  Be human.  So yes, I did choose this.  But I get to own it, too.  Just as I get to own the glimpses of joy that peek through.  The hugs, wet kisses, sleepy bed-head faces.

I need to keep reminding myself that joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive.  And I need to keep reminding myself why I chose to suffer this way.

How do you choose to suffer?

 

 

 

 

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I’m Ready for my Closeup

Turns out that a lot of the aspects of planning a wedding are really awkward.  I already wrote about how awkward it was trying on wedding dresses.  Now I am going to write about getting your lovey-dovey picture taken.

I am one of those people who actually loves getting my picture taken.  Ever since I was little, I’ve been a ham (hard to believe, I know).  I actually have very few pictures of me taken where I am smiling like a normal person, because whenever I see a camera I tend to do the over-the-top imsoexcitedtobehereanditookmymethtoday pose.  I think I’ve got that one down.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Case in point.

Let it be known that the above three pictures were not hard to find.  Quite the opposite – I had to choose my three faves amongst the ample caffine-induced euphoria (or irritability as the case may be).

Since we decided it would’ve been too much work to have our wedding at the summer camp where we met and fell in love – cue fireworks and rainbows – we were very happy that our photog agreed to make the drive down to the Bay Area so we could have our engagement session be shot at camp.  Huzzah!

The weather was amazing for the middle of January – sunny and not very cold at all.  Couldn’t have asked for better circumstances.  White Baby Jesus was looking down on us that day.

Our photographer told us to bring a lot of stuff.  Makeup, lotion, hairbrush, and different changes of clothes.  Never having had a real strike-a-pose onsite photo shoot before, Brian and I filled our car with the contents of about half our closets.  Oh, and we brought our bikes, since biking is one of our favorite past times and our photog thought that would make for some great shots.

So picture a little Civic filled to the brim with clothes, shoes, and makeup bags, complete with two bikes on the back.  It looked like we were moving out.

Best part – we used maybe 5% of the crap we brought.

It was kind of ridiculous.

But we’re totally in love, so it’s ok.

Let’s just get right to it – posing for engagement photographs in front of a stranger and in public is weird.

Our first stop was in the ice cream shop where Brian and I had our first date – cue fireworks and rainbows.  We were told to “snuggle” and “cuddle” and “make lovey-eyes” at each other.  And then the photographer stood on the table to get a better angle (because bird’s eye view is apparently where it’s at these days).

We ran out of there before the owners could ask us to leave.

We got to camp and started posing with soakem balls (I’ll refrain from making a ball joke here – soakem is the exact same game they play in the movie Dodgeball).  This is more like it, I thought as I pelted Brian with brightly colored, enflamed clown testicles (zing!).

But then – Brian, I want you to chase Melissa, catch her, and then swing her around!  the photographer said.  Long story short, we couldn’t get through that part of the shoot without drawing blood.  My blood.  If Brian had been a sparkly vampire, our love palace would have come crashing down.  In other words, I think this photo shoot was making us question the status of our relationship.

As if we weren’t being tested with hot enough coals, we were then asked to ride our bikes up a hill, slowly, and as closely together as possible, all while smiling at a camera, and looking gloriously in love…without falling off.  Capturing love on camera was harder than I thought!  Cary Elwes and Robin Wright made it look so easy!  …maybe it would’ve been a whole lot easier to put Brian in a black mask and then shove him down a hill.  Mental note for next time.

I think the best part of the whole day was watching our photographer – after she stressed to us that she was an “indoor girl” – roll around on the ground and get leaves all up in her hair just so she could get that perfect shot of the flappy skin under our chins.  That’s true dedication to a craft, my friends.

Here’s a little peek at how we looked when told to “dear nuzzle” and “stop grabbing Brian’s ass.”

This one wasn’t posed. I jump on B a lot, and when I did this, we heard our photog shout from the bottom of the hill, “OH, YOU LOOK SO CUTE! HOLD THAT POSE!” Boom.

I think the day was quite successful (minus the blood loss).