It’s funny the things that trigger our emotions.
One moment Bear and I were cozy in the living room watching an interesting documentary on the Ice Age and the next I had paused the DVD, tears streaming down my face as I turned to a very startled Bear and said, “We don’t really matter, do we?”
(Feel free to feel sorry for Bear at this point. I’m afraid my trains of thought tend to stun him on a regular basis. :-))
In fairness to my overwrought self, this pronouncement had been building for quite some time. Losing a dear friend, cousin, and grandparents in a very short period of time had given rise to feelings of, “What is the point of this life? What’s the purpose of living if we just die and within a few years are forgotten?”
It all felt so very short and so very sad.
Thus, on that cozy night, as I watched stories of people that lived and died thousands of years ago, I found myself mourning them. Mourning the fact that we don’t even know their names, have no idea what they believed or thought of the world, how they loved and cared for their children, not even what language they spoke. What did they do, think, feel? We don’t know.
It felt like they didn’t matter.
It felt like the people I had loved didn’t matter.
It felt like one day, I wouldn’t matter either.
Once Bear recovered from his shock, we talked it over. He listened as I spilled out all those deep fears and doubts and questions. We talked about famous people and obscure ones, people we loved and those we’d lost, people who’d already died and the ones still to be born. We talked about them, their beliefs and experiences, the foods they might have eaten and clothes they’d worn. The crafts they’d done and work they’d accomplished and people they’d loved and fears they’d had. Their comforts and joys, hopes and failures, griefs and soul-surging happinesses.
Then Bear said something I shall treasure forever.
“Babe, we do matter. We matter in our own time and to our own people.”
In those words I found my peace and my comfort and also, somehow, my connection to all those who have gone before and will come after.
We do matter. We ALL matter. From the cave men who made clothing out of fur and leather and painted pictures on rocks to my beloveds who aren’t in this life anymore but who live so vividly in my memories and thoughts.
We do matter. We matter to our own people – the people who love us, whose lives are better because we are in them, the people whose very names make us smile. And we matter in our own time, this time, this very day.
That moment of grief and apparent hopelessness was transformed into a treasure for me, and the ramifications continue to ripple through my thoughts and spirit.
I don’t feel anger about my past anymore. Although the bad things people did to me are still bad, my anger towards the perpetrators has dissolved. And I’m so thankful for that. They may have done cruel and abusive things, but they matter too. And I earnestly wish them real love and healing of their own wounds.
I feel greater contentment and gratitude. I think this society of ours often pressures us into feeling like we need to be amazing in order to matter. It’s lovely to know that we don’t. We can be poor and in debt and still matter. We can be overweight and have messy houses and still matter. We can have crazy relatives and whacked up children and still matter. We can be chronically ill and mess up regularly and still matter. We can just be our plain ol’ lovely selves and matter enormously.
I feel more purposeful. My days are more precious to me now, but not in the way I expected. I don’t feel driven to fill each day with experiences, don’t feel compelled to “not waste a minute!” If anything, I’ve actually relaxed more. This is My Time to Matter, and I want to live it, not with greater accomplishments but with greater awareness, greater enjoyment, and greater love. I’m trying to live more “in the moment” rather than in a “cross this off the list” manner. It’s been lovely. Cooking, chores, exercising, making things – they all become so much more enjoyable when I focus on enjoying them rather than completing them.
Perhaps the biggest change is I’m not afraid of death anymore. I dearly hope there is a heaven where all of humanity will be together in peace and restoration and healing and love, but if there isn’t, it’s OK. I feel so lucky to have lived, to have known love and friendship, to have eaten dark chocolate and ripe tomatoes and fresh peas, to have felt sun on my skin and wind in my hair and splashed in water and fallen in snow. So, so lucky.
Wishing you a beautiful day, dear Mattering Ones, a day of good food and good company and the sure knowledge that you matter.
Maple Cumin Sweet Potatoes
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp real maple syrup
2 Tbsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
- Place sweet potato chunks in saucepan and cover with water. Add salt and bring to boil. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until potato mashes easily when pressed with a fork.
- Drain and return to pot.
- Add remaining ingredients and mash well.
- Serve hot.