I’m currently doing a manuscript review for my friend Stephany, whom I met at a conference last fall. She’s a sheep shearer, and in describing her first forays into shearing, she says: “I start to laugh a little, a deranged, half-crying laugh, in pain, out of relief that I am done and the sheep is not dead, and at the full force of knowing, so immediately, that nothing I have ever done has been hard.”

When I read that, I stopped and sat still, like I’d been given a profound revelation. What if I were to challenge myself with this thought? What if nothing in my life, thus far, has ever been hard?

When I am faced with something difficult, with a shock to my system, with a hard slog, I tell myself a little story about how I am resilient. How I have grit. How I’ve faced this challenge before, or something similar, and I’ve gotten through, and I will get through again. What if all of that is just the story I tell myself, because I have no resiliency, no grit, because nothing I have ever done, up to now, has been hard?

What I considered “hard” things: my school closing down, a cross-country move with no guarantees, breakups with people I adored, constant dealing with people’s ignorance, bias, and thoughtlessness every time I leave my house alone, bleak years of unemployment, crippling student loan and credit card debt, directionlessness, inability to do what I want for lack of funds, loneliness. Not hard. None of it hard.

What could I do with my life if I suspended all belief that what I’ve been given has been hard, and what I face will always be hard? What free, unincumbered space would open up in my mind if I could let go of all that hard?

That space could be for new creation, for love, for more hand-holding and laughing and ice cream and intense conversations where we all figure it out, and more acceptance for each of us, particular and beautiful and human.

6 thoughts on “Hard

  1. What a great and unexpected tangent to be sent on.

    I think we all crave something hard to do, in life, something worthy. Not so hard that it destroys us, of course, but something that demands our full capabilities. Capabilities that we know, on a certain level, are often wasted.

    I’m drawn to stories of people who have some crisis dumped on them, who find their lives changed and priorities upended. I feel envious, but also afraid because I doubt my own resiliency, and because I’m too complacent to force big changes on my own.

    Still, aren’t the best heroes those who doubt themselves? Superman is boring.

    1. I think most people would be surprised at how capable they are when faced with challenge. Though I do think there is some privilege in complacency, I can see how it’s easy to fall into. It seems that whenever I get complacent, something happens to knock me back into focus. If I were an optimist, I’d be grateful for that. Sometimes I am. I couldn’t even tell you what Superman does, (I imagine it’s super), so you’ve got no argument from me on the “boring” there. 🙂

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