I asked for a strong spine, a soft belly, deep lungs, and a curious mind. I was given the curious mind on my entry to earth—the stuff was woven into my DNA. But to other three, the answers to my requests were “yes” along with the opportunities to build these habits.
Now I see the answers to my asking in my relationships with the people I love most. In the tornado spinning and swirling around me, in the uncertainly, unknown, and pain. In my struggle to define and articulate what I believe.
I see a sturdy back bone being carved, chip by chip, from sturdy, flexible wood, the kind that becomes stronger with each wildfire survived. I’m watching my wavering fears burn to embers and ash each time I walk through something hard. (Also, embers glow, I’m noticing.)
I see opportunities to learn grace, to become a soft place for others to land, to meet each person I see with a soft front. I’m learning grace by the bucketful, collecting it in my belly, and handing it out by the armload. I—me—am full of reasons to taste and swallow this grace that I am learning because I need it most right now. I am learning how to love, and the path to this graceful love is pain.
I see the vital need for deep, strong lungs. Lungs full of air to carry on, to speak firmly when needed, to peak altitudes not usually inhabited by humans, and to hold my breath when the waves sweep over or I am caught in an undertow. Lungs strong enough to take in all the oxygen my body and soul will need in this life—more than most people might want to ever inhale. Maybe, because I was made to camber further, higher, and deeper than most?
Nah. Probably because I want to. Because I’m willing to be built, because I crave the challenge and growth and unknown. Because I care about learning, discovering, and becoming more than I care about perfection, arriving, and dazzling.
Before lungs are strong, they are weak. Before there is plenty of air, there is “not enough.” There is gasping and struggling—I’m doing a lot of that right now. I can stop as soon as the pressure lets me loose. Or, I can choose more deep breaths and hard gasps, over and over until my lungs deepen, until my maturity, discipline, and mind is forced to expand and grow. Yes, I’ll take that. (Please and thank you.)
A curious mind was my birthright, a gift that I didn’t work for or earn. Just a way I was made, like my beauty, the sound of my laughter, and my family. Things given for my enjoyment and pleasure, but also tools for my use. It is my mind—always watching and full of question marks—that serves as both the foundation and as the fuel to build a sturdy spine, a soft belly, and lungs deep enough to carry on.
Ideas sparked by Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” and “Vanilla Pines” by Tow’rs.