The Uncontrollables

Last night, I wrestled with a 32 pound cardboard box to pull the pieces of my new hammock stand out. It was around 8:30PM and as the sun dipped below the horizon, I was determined to sit my happy butt in my new hammock before bed. I pulled the black painted metal poles, screws, and the multicolored hammock out of the box and onto our second story apartment porch. Sweat moistened my back and neck in the 85 degree humid weather as I roughly assembled the stand and hooked the ends of the rainbow human sack on each end. I called my two closest friends on the phone and talked about life as I crawled my way into the finished setup and dangled my feet on the sides.

As we talked about life, I noticed the empty delivery boxes to my right that had piled up in the corner of our porch: One box of size 3 Pampers, three Arm & Hammer cat litter refills, varying shapes of Amazon Prime boxes – too many to count, and one Green Chef box which came in yesterday. “These were the things we could control,” I thought as the three of us continued to talk on the phone. We could’ve and still should take a trip to the recycling area in the apartment complex to clean the clutter.

Then to my left were two piles of Miracle Gro soil with a toppled plastic plant starter that had tumbled off the stand and onto the wooden planks during the last rainstorm. I had high hopes for my little sprouting plants, but after they died from heat and negligence, I planned to replant. The wind and rain had pushed the soil in all 50 small compartments off the stand and out of the safety of the plastic lid – making rich earthy smear marks on the floor. This act of nature, I couldn’t control.

In life, there are messes and situations that happen because of something we did and others are out of our control. On first look, it all just looks like a hot mess that needs to be fixed or cleaned or completely put away. I’m not sure it matters whether or not we can control it or how it got there – but what matters is how we react to the mess and who is by our side as we try to clean it up.

Today, my husband will help me clean up the porch – sweeping up the spilled soil and picking up the boxes off the floor and taking them to where they belong, just like the many times he and my mom picked me up off the bathroom floor during chemo.

Tonight after our son is put to bed, we will swing together with the setting sun on a neat porch without regard for the mess that will probably rear its head tomorrow. Today will be over and all we need to do is enjoy our now, in the scant moments when there aren’t any messes to clean.

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