For the grownups

This is not one of those aspirational lifestyle blogs, you know the kind, where young men pontificate on how to make a lot of money and travel the world and be very hip and cool while doing it. The idea is that you should want to be like them.

So I shall be frank. You do not want to be like me. No one would aspire to have my life, an extremely ridiculous one full of sorrow and drudgery in which I am frantically trying to figure out how to pay the rent far too often for a woman of my age. I could win the lottery tomorrow, or the Pulitzer, and while I would not say no to either of these things, neither of them, or anything else, would cure my daughter and she would still suffer, and my life would still have a lot of sorrow and drudgery, which is to say, it would still be one of those silly human lives.

So I am talking to the grownups of the world, the ones who have bills, and regrets, and maybe a shrink. The ones who can’t abandon their lives to go live it up on the Riviera or to retreat to a mountaintop. Not just can’t: wouldn’t want to. The people who don’t aspire to my life, but have it already: a real life, warts and all.

I am sure there must be at least ten of us, right? And ten is a good start.

This blog is not about how if you follow my advice (“you should be like me!”) then you will lose fifty pounds/cure your acne/never get the flu again/attract your soul mate. I don’t have the first idea how to do any of that stuff. And besides, you don’t want to be like me. You want to be like you. With a little more peace, maybe. Not mistaking control and anxiety for mastery of anything.

This blog is about trying to be here with you, and to know that you are here with me.

The grey beginning

This is not a site about personal development. I like you fine, warts and all. In fact, your warts are what I love about you. Nothing is more obnoxious than a saint, unless it’s someone who’s trying to be one. So light up that Marlboro; I won’t complain. I’m having a mocha overstuffed with sugar and two shots of espresso, even though I know the caffeine will keep me up tonight.

This is not a site about how you need to lose ten pounds OR YOU WILL DIE TOMORROW!!! or how to stop yelling at your dog UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE A BAD AND EVIL PERSON FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!! And, no, I don’t have the first idea what you should do about your 401(k).

This is a site about coping with the hard things in life (major loss, catastrophe, even) and accepting the gifts that such experiences offer us.

Now I’m going to tell you a story. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

When my daughter was three days old, a neurologist said to me, “Your daughter’s brain is massively deformed.”

In the heartbeat that followed this pronouncement, I thought the very best thing that could happen would be for us to die in a tragic auto accident on the way home from the hospital. You might call that not wanting to deal with the world as it is.

Later, when I decided I would do everything I could to cure my daughter, I was trying out another fantasy: that everything would be all right if everything just changed, if I just did something about it. The world was not to my liking, but it could be altered so that I would like it better, if I just tried hard enough.

On the day I thought, “I need to let go of everything I think I know about life,” I found the path through the forest. In thinking that, I chose the positive road, the warrior’s way, the path I like to think of as the Tao: saying yes to life in all its joy and sorrow.

In the beginning, what I sought for my daughter was something out there: an elixir, a cure, a magic amulet that would make her all right, take away her crippling disease. But there exists no such thing. What I learned, instead, was how to find everything I needed inside of me: acceptance, courage, strength—and joy.