toolbag

Image courtesy of  Gualberto10 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have two uncompleted afghans, two uncompleted scarves, one uncompleted dishcloth,  an uncompleted shawl, and numerous other crochet projects that have been on hold for so long I no longer know what they are or where the pattern is I was following when I was working on them. I often get “hooked” (no pun intended) into crocheting a new pattern just for the thrill of creating something different, but when the newness wears off I sometimes abandon the project. Novelty must be one of my life’s strong allures, and, in fact, I think that attraction played a part in the relationships I have explored during my lifetime. It may even have played a part in my constantly seeking and exploring various religions.

I think I may just be trying to justify all my “unfinished business.” At the same time, however, there are benefits associated with prioritizing variety and new challenges over confining yourself to following a set way of doing the same thing forever and forever, amen. Seeking variety has introduced to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new people, new insights, and new experiences that I would have otherwise missed. The key issue here, for me, is discerning what is of value that I need to keep with me as I journey on to explore new avenues. It is almost as if I have spent my lifetime on a “scavenger hunt”—-a scavenger hunt in which the goals are not predetermined. Therefore, I don’t know what I am looking for until I find it and try it on to determine if it is a “comfortable fit.” If it is, it gets put in my “tool bag” and carried with me to future adventures.  Along the way, of course, I find I have outgrown some of the “tools” in my bag and I exchange them for a newer, more effective “tool.”

Through the years I’ve collected tools like the ten commandments, the beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and Christ’s commandment to love one another and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Later, that latter “do unto” belief was bolstered by the Wiccan  belief that whatever you do to others comes back to you threefold as well as by the concept of “karma” that I also stuffed in my tool bag. Some of the tools I have discarded are beliefs taught to me by fairy tales: that love is forever and that you will live happily ever after. I have discarded many beliefs I developed during childhood: that everyone is honest, that a spoken promise or commitment is better than a written contract, and that I should not question authority or be assertive or aggressive. And, of course there are the “big tools” I have discarded that almost killed me: the beliefs that drinking alcohol and eating were fun activities that “felt good,”  and therefore, I should be able to drink and eat what I wanted, as much as I wanted,  whenever I wanted.

Here are some of the new tools I’ve put in my bag: It is okay to say no, it is okay to express my own feelings and meet my own needs, not everything has an “ending” and some things you thought would never end do end. I have learned that pain and “being wounded” by some of life’s experiences are not necessarily bad things—-that they often lead to growth and newer, better outcomes. Pain can bring spiritual clarity, and being a wounded survivor can give you strength, insight, empathy, and heighten your ability to help others. Of course, over 32 years ago, I put AA’s 12 steps in my tool bag, and they are still there. However,  I take them out periodically and refine them so they continue to be “new and useful” tools. My newest tool is one I  find extremely useful: centering or contemplative prayer in which I consent to quietly seeking and receiving God’s unconditional love.

It took me all these words to realize what I am trying to say is life is not so much about “finishing something” as it is about evolving—-it is about process and not perfection. It is about the journey and not the destination. What tools have you discovered, picked up,  or revised in your tool bag?  What ones have you discarded? May God bless and keep you.

Advertisements