One thing or another
This greeting card shows a black and white photo of a toddler in his footie printed pajamas. He stands at the bottom of a carpeted staircase, leaning over to rest his forehead softly on the edge of the third step, his hands clasped behind him. He’s a picture of quiet frustration. The message reads, “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Hang in there.”
A friend and I began exchanging “our little guy” in 2005. She sent him to me first. I believe he was intended to lift my spirits when I fretted about some upcoming medical tests.
When she needed a morale boost amidst a small life crisis, I sent him back to her.
And so it has gone for nearly eight years. The little guy has been displayed three or four times at my house, three or four times at hers. We eventually filled all the writing space on the card. Now it holds sticky notes on top of sticky notes. The little guy’s current assignment is to cheer my friend as she recovers from a fall that broke two fingers.
When I receive the card, it reminds me that a friend wishes me well and keeps me in her thoughts. She understands what I’m going through and would help if she could.
The reappearance of the same little guy reminds me of the blessings of the continuity of those friendships that we sustain over the years.
Further, the recurrence of our guy reminds me that life is not intended to be trouble-free. Life is meant to be one thing or another. We’re meant to experience it fully, in all its ups and downs, and (ideally) use them to learn, grow, and increase in understanding and wisdom. Some people say, for instance, that suffering makes us stronger, some say no it doesn’t, it only makes us miserable; but the proponent of either view has concluded something valuable from the suffering experience.
The odd thing about the little guy is: As I look at our collection of notes, I cannot recall exactly what challenge prompted each sending of the card. Perhaps my friend remembers, but I would have to research my journals to figure out why, in each instance, she sent the card to me. So the little guy reminds me that when we meet problems, we solve them, or they go away, and we move on. Whatever the experiences taught me, I hope I remember the learning even if I forget the circumstances.
But mostly, the little guy reminds me how presumptuous I feel when, at this time of the year, I open my desk calendar and fill in events scheduled for months ahead. One meeting I attend happens on the first Saturday of every month; another on the second Wednesday; I have a third commitment every second Monday. My husband and I might plan a vacation months ahead. I’m writing my life for the next ten months, assuming that all will go as planned.
The little guy reminds me that sometimes it doesn’t, that sometimes, as the old adage says, life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I do not write on my calendar blithely, with full confidence that I will meet every commitment. Rather, I write cautiously, with a silent “the good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise.”
So far, the good Lord has apparently been mostly willing, and the creek hasn’t risen high enough to derail too many of my plans.Our little guy reminds me that, in this, I have been truly blessed.
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