We’ve been hit pretty hard at work lately.
The mix of a new publication and a three page spread of a certain meatloaf sandwich we make. Hey man, people love their meatloaf.
I have looked around at the faces of my co-workers, dazed and exhausted. Stretched a bit too thin, but they’re good, I tell ya. Good.
In my own body, I am tired as well.
I don’t seem to get as frazzled as I used to. Even when there is water above my eyes, I can’t think of any reason to feel any less of myself. This hasn’t come from working in the food industry. I mean, sure. The longer you work in the mess of trenches and the rows of tables and chairs, it can be an overextension of one’s soul. Enough to want to make you hide in the bathroom or the walk-in for fear of another human being’s response.
But then there is something deeper to it. For me, at least.
I find myself laughing a lot. And smiling. Understanding. Listening.
Maybe it’s some sort of mechanism I’ve developed over this past year where I say in my head, “Pfft. This is nothing.” And really, the rush will pass. All things will pass.
I had reached a point at one gig, where I just lost it. I went into the bathroom and called Hannah in tears saying, “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too much.”
It was a combination of a lot of unhealthy things. I realized if I wanted to make it in this industry, I’d have to start making it work for me. So, I just let go.
And this is where something deeper started to take place. Out of all the rough things I’ve endured in the most recent past, there has been nothing worse than sitting on the floor of my old apartment, weeping at such a huge loss. My heart was at its lowest point, and I think often when older companions lose each other, it’s only a matter of time before the other starts to let go.
The heart can only take so much. It is a muscle. Like any muscle that cycles through its daily motion, it will tire. At some point, it will let go.
So, like rough days on the line, or running food: you sink, or you swim.
And there is an ebb and flow to sinking and swimming. There are seasons where it feels good to fight, and others where you have to submit for a while.
I revert back to myself sitting on the floor with no energy. No hope. Nothing else to say. A pain in my chest and a belly that was sick of everything. Since then, I have worked myself back up into something decently recognizable, I think. Presentable. Able to push my shoulders back and walk with meaning.
It is quiet, where I live. So handling customers is sometimes a welcomed experience. I like the challenge of handling a person, as often times restaurants can be intimidating places to go. But to make someone laugh, or give them the space to get what they really want. Sometimes that feels like a gift.
It’s something I can give them. It’s something I have power over, but not in the way that should make you feel threatened. There is something important about communicating needs and desires. I think good communication relies on both sides making non-threatening words, and putting them together in such a way that disarms. Too often I found myself defensive. I found myself making it about me all the damn time.
And then I just let go of it.
I let go of my desire to be understood, and worked more at understanding. (I believe there is a St. Francis prayer there somewhere..)
My energy has shifted. I get to put it in places where I’ve needed it the most. Connecting with people. And that allows me to not be so afraid. You learn everyone is battling their own wars, both inside and out of their bodies. I meet that with grace, you see?
And I do it in hopes that I get it back in return.
I think this is one of those things that might change the world. Starting small, and to not threaten each other all the time with our rightness or needing to prove that we are loved and important.
We have value. And we have these tools that build up over the years, like your grandpa’s shed. We learn better how to loosen and tighten. Those big problems become smaller problems.
“Ah,” you think to yourself. “That’ll be good in no time.”
“Well, this one might take some time.”
And you will see better on both sides, that it’s not about winning or losing an interaction. It is about sustaining a goodness, for yourself and your community. I wish everyone could see inside themselves the things I’ve been able to see in myself.
That goodness is a simple luxury. That good communication can take time to build, but that it is most important when building up the Beloved.
I talk about the Beloved a lot. And really what I mean is humanity.
Made from the stuff of our mothers and fathers, mixed with wonder, and grown into things that have the potential of loving another.
That is what I believe in the most.
and everyone else.
that’s what I really want.