Monday, October 6, 2008

Wooden Ships and Heartbreaks

"Wooden ships on the water
very free and easy,
easy, you know the way it's supposed to be...."

When I was 19 years old my goal was to travel through life with no bumps or bruises. I truly believed that a successful life was one without pain or disappointment. Smooth sailing....that was my big plan. I soon learned that smooth sailing was virtually impossible and in my stupidity I pushed the pain away, stuffed it and denied it. Eventually the stuff bucket was filled to overflowing and it took five years of therapy to muck out the stall.

Emotional choas with wheelchair

Some people have more trials and pain than one person could possibly bear. I often wonder how the find the energy to push forward. My own heartbreaks are insignificant in comparison. My therapist did warn me against comparing pain. Our pain should neither be trivialized or held in comparison to that of others.

Recently I found the need to lean on my dear friend for support and reassurance. In hindsight I wonder what possessed me to do such a thing. Di was dealt the ultimate blow two years ago - the loss of her daughter. As always she managed to find the words that would be meaningful and supportive to me. I wanted to share them with you to see if they resonate with you also.

"The effort you have made to heal those scars is now very much a part of your beauty. We all are walking maps of our pain. Some are maps of beauty and depth and some are a mess. It's not just that out of our control, not of our choosing, tornadoes or asteroids hit our maps, it's whether we accept the damage, clean up as best we can and beautify these damaged areas as best we can. This, to me, is what separates the men from the boys, if you will allow the cliché."

Is she right? Is there beauty in our healing scars?

I hold onto her words like a cherished book, reading and rereading, taking the message to heart anew each time.

It seems that Di and I are like old battleships, cobbled together with a crazy patchwork of mismatched plating and crazy rivets, a Mad Max ship chugging along through life. When I am down she is up to the task and when she is down I give her a tow to a safe harbor.

How about you? Are you a sleek sloop, sliding easily over the waves.......


or a crazy contraption, hitting the waves head on, spewing smoke and losing a piece here and there?


All photos are from my archives.


Jerusalem said...

There is a lyric from a Leonard Cohen song that goes "There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in." I love that line because I think our lives are full of cracks and broken places, ones we chose and ones we didn't. But I think Mr. Cohen is right. Cracks are were the light comes in, if we will accept the cracks and enjoy the light that eventually seeps through them, instead of spending all our energy covering them up, trying to pretend they were never there in the first place. When you think about it, it can be awful lonely & cold in a room with no light coming in. So I am grateful (most days) for the cracks, because I really do love the light.

Lena . . . said...

What beautiful words and how meaningful. I've copied them and filed them away in a special place in my computer where I keep those kinds of things. I hope that's okay. I wish I had had them available over the summer when I needed them desperately. Your friend Di sounds like a wonderful person. I wish I had had someone like her last summer to confide in. I thought I did, several to be exact, who proved me so very wrong. All they did was take what I told them in confidence and spewed it all over town for entertainment purposes. That left some pretty deep scars also. I think I'm that ship that's lost lots of pieces along the way and tried to cover them up with scraps. Hope I can hold it all together.

I've only been reading your blog for a short period of time, but thoroughly enjoy it. You have so many words of wisdom.

Jerusalem said...

BTW- I discovered the Cohen lyric in a book by Anne Lamott where (if I remember correctly) she pointing out the same sort of idea, and I wanted to make sure she got credit!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Thank you for welcoming me here and, yes, I am another crazy contraption on this sea of life. :D

You share some deep thoughts, Suzanne. I still find myself wishing to return to a life with fewer challenges, but how very dull. Your friend's words are comforting and I'm writing them down.

hayseed said...

I also thought that life was about 'smooth sailing' in my youth, after a number of painful experiences, I thought "oh, I get it, it's actually about suffering, and each unpleasantness is a large rock that you add to a wheelbarrow and lug around with you". But you're right, your experiences (and the painful ones) shape you, and sometimes that can result in a beautiful patina. My wisest friend is a person who has gone through many things. She is beautiful and kind. So yes, have cracks, but don't let that bitterness block them up. You have to remain porous. Easily said, not so easily done. If I haven't commented here before, then HI! and I enjoy your blog too.

bv said...

wow...can you and di come over for coffee? Raised by a crazy mom, lost my son 2 years ago after many years of watching him suffer and learn to be the bravist guy i know. watch my brother slowly die of cancer a year later-so brave also I am ship #2. which one do you think looks the most interesting? the most fun? the most creative? di's words will be carried in my heart for those times that the sun goes black. what i know for sure is i can do anything! lena...hang around the framer's wife. she is a huge comfort and very wise lady.

restyled home said...

You are the most beautiful writer, and have a way of conveying messages that make us think.

I think we all change the vessel we are in as time goes by. I think I started out in a crappy little dingy, and now have a secure fishing boat! I also only invite those whom I trust on board...I've learned along the way.

On a lighter note, I know how much you love Matthew Mead, so stop by my blog and enter the give-away. I think you will like it...

Thanks for your witty and insightful blog,

Mary said...

"I have desired to go where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea."

I've always loved this poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Sometimes life seems so full of storms, and we need to be able to weather them as best we can...

Thanks for a very thought- provoking post, Suzanne.


I had a best friend who once taught me that life was all about 'learning to let go'. I say 'had' because one day she phoned me and said 'I no longer want to be your friend. I'm letting go of our relationship'. I argued with her for 10 minutes, asking her to reconsider. She did not. And I have not seen or spoken to her in 7 years. But, she was right: Life is all about letting go.

lifeinredshoes said...

I too would be a patched up battleship, but I have fired my share of cannons. Because of this I must come back to drydock for a time and offer repairs to those that have been hit by my "Friendly Fire". Life, like a recipe, is indeed what we make it. And blessed are those that find all the ingredients to make the meal.

Karen said...

I'm definitely the crazy contraption, with bits falling off and belching smoke.. :-) Wouldn't have it any other way, either!!

I think that there is beauty in our scars. There is also, if we allow it, wisdom, courage, compassion and strength.

I compare myself to a Toledo steel sword. I've been folded and beaten and heated in the fire of life, again and again and as a result I am oh so stronger.. :-)

crochetjo said...

I had to respond to this. I am going through therapy right now, and am learning to see the light through the cracks. From the time I was a little girl, the joy of life was sucked out of me. It never even occurred to me that life might be enjoyed without pain. But I am that old battleship that keeps chugging along. And in spite of the heartaches and pain, I have learned, for the most part, to have compassion for the people I come in contact with. I think that's what Di was saying about the beauty of our scars. I truly believe that those of us who live through the unthinkable choose either to make the world a better place, or to hole up and hide from the world.It isn't easy, and sometimes I long for a place to hole away, but then I would miss out on all the good things in this world.

Anonymous said...

I surfed over from another page, and read your beautiful entry. We all have lots of lines and scars for our time here. I strive everyday not to let anger and fear rule my life. But I am truly greatful for every experience cause it has brought me closer to the light.

We find few true friends in life and I am glad you have Di for that.

Thanks for the beautiful words.

Louise said...

Can anyone really be a sleep sloop sliding easily over the ways? I think it's how we deal with it. Yes, the scars are beautiful if we let them be. Sometimes we have to grow into them.