You scurry to your closet and scan the possibilities. The pants that fit you 10 pounds ago taunt you from the hanger. The blouse you bought at the thrift store because of its price and its color more than because of your deep love for it, the shoes; a mishmash of flip flops and sneakers, one holy pair of moccasins all mock you as you imagine yourself 20 pounds lighter, 15 years younger, so much more confident.
You shift gears, then. What fabulous thing will I bring? You ask. You pull down your grandmother's recipe box from the top shelf of the pantry, scan pinterest, consider what delectable and memorable treat you will prepare and present as an extension of yourself. What will I bring to the party?
Last week, my otherwise healthy husband ended up in a hospital bed. He is minus a gall bladder and feeling much better now thank God. While he was in that bed, he counseled young nurses who were conflicted about their futures. He told doctors, and CNAs how much their expertise was appreciated. He thanked the dietary staff for making such wonderful food and for smiling as they delivered it to him. He chatted up his room mates, even the one who spoke Russian and suffered from dementia and scurried about the room moving furniture in the night. He said "no thank you" to pain meds, reported being more uncomfortable than in pain, and insisted on walking as soon as he was able. He watched the news and the baseball games. He worried about his daycare families finding care for their children in his absence. Even in this bed, in this hospital, and in discomfort, he remained authentically "him".
As I took my morning walking meditation, I reflected on last week and all that I learned from watching my husband in that bed. We only have ourselves, and we only need to bring our authentic selves to whatever we do. That party invitation may be just a party-or it may be that promotion you've been vying for, the raise you've been promised, the degree you've finally earned. But stop waiting for that invitation to arrive. You have all that you need right now...today. You won't be any more you with more letters after your name, or with the status of a new title, or when and if you fit into those pants. If you've been waiting until you achieve something that you believe makes you more worthy of seizing life, stop! Breathe. Look at you. Imagine yourself in a hospital bed. "What should I bring to the party? " You ask. Sneering a the shapeless johnny, you wonder aloud, "what will I wear?" The person in the next bed clears her throat, introduces herself, tells you she's scared. You could hide behind the curtain and pretend not to hear her. You could feign sleep. Or you could bring yourself to the party and engage in the sacred act of caring for another.
What will you bring to the party?