In my adult life I have grown increasingly skilled at handling “big” things—I have developed the capacity and equanimity to skillfully navigate complicated relational dynamics, to be a relatively non-anxious presence in the face of other people’s emotional outbursts, to withstand large-scale institutional conflict without being consumed by it, to sustain engagement in addressing systemic oppression without expecting a quick fix, and so on.
But the little, inconvenient, non-life-threatening annoyances of daily life? Sometimes I think they’ll do me in.
Today it’s been a comedy of errors that nearly undid me. At one point I thought I might burst into tears, only to realize I was shaking with laughter instead.
Late in the morning, the dentist injected Novocain in the back of my mouth before filling a cavity. I am, on the one hand, grateful for the precautionary care, just in case he hit a nerve. On the other hand, I do not love the lingering effects of the local anesthetic, which I experienced for the next several hours. I felt … odd. I was hungry but nervous to eat, lest I should make a mess or hurt myself. Did I look weird? Was I talking right? Is it safe to swallow a sip of water? Augh!
Then, in my distraction and discomfort, I forgot a 1pm meeting—a standing meeting that I’ve had at this time every week for more than a year. Thinking I had thirty minutes until my next commitment, I was relaxing in the backyard hammock when my phone alerted me to the meeting’s start time. So, I connected from my phone, then relocated to the computer, then tried to switch devices and inadvertently ended the meeting for everyone. We reconnected. A few minutes in, the dog started barking so loudly that I turned the volume way up. Then the dog stopped barking and the volume was too loud. So I turned it down. Except what I actually did was mute the volume, so I couldn’t hear my colleague … AND I couldn’t get the volume to go back up! She was understanding and forgiving and we agreed (by typing in the chat) that we’d just meet again next week.
But I felt so silly and incompetent and ridiculous! I don’t like those feelings.
And I’ve been participating in UUMA Ministry Days and General Assembly this week.* I’m feeling inspired, encouraged, challenged. My sense of faith in this faith is being renewed, invigorated.
So, I’m reminded—again, and again, and again—that my life … and even a single day’s experience … isn’t all one thing. There’s frustration and failure and anger and worry AND hope and joy and love and courage. It’s true in the big things and the little things.
May you, too, be reassured by a restorative variation in each day’s experience.
* At this moment, I’m feeling especially grateful for the reports from President Susan Frederick-Gray (starts at 00:30:45) and Co-Moderators Charles Du Mond and Rev. Meg Riley (starts at 01:22:15) during General Session II, as well as the Service of the Living Tradition [update: I just learned that this video is being edited, which may take a few weeks, but it will then be posted for viewing], during which UUCC’s own Jen Raffensperger, Rev. Anthony Jenkins, and Robin Slaw were all honored for this year’s vocational milestones.