The Balloons Will Fly

It’s been so long, I think I may have forgotten how to do this . . .

I’m sitting here, telling myself “just pick a topic and go.” But that in itself is the problem. I have an abundance of raw and uncultivated fodder, and the prospect of culling the relevant and essential from the “stuff that makes me me” is moderately overwhelming. I’ve never been very good at narrowing down things. I imagine most writers contend with this persnickety character trait. Or is it just me?

When I sit down to write a scene that hasn’t quite developed, but rather spotted my imagination with colorful gems of potentiality, I can’t help but swoon, moaning, “Oh, the possibilities!” This results in a milieu of mundane and bizarre tactics and responses.

A) Check my Twitter

B) Stare at the computer screen and wait for genius to strike

C) Get a glass of water

D) Check my Facebook

E) Make a snack

F) Check my e-mail

G) Give myself a short pep-talk: “Come on, it’s easy — just write something, anything, doesn’t matter what, just write. Writewritewritewritewritewritewritewrite.”

H) Realize I’ve had a small, but nonetheless stunting, mental break

I) Practice cathartic pacing and breathing, all the while still actively engaged in tactic “G.”

As you can see, things can quickly escalate and get out of hand over here. I find that a picture helps to ground my thoughts. A friend of mine shared this photo on Facebook last week. I liked it so much that I posted it on my own page. Then I sat there for a bit, just looking at the words, the message depicted, and eventually spoke the words aloud.

This quote resembles The Serenity Prayer, something I have often reflected and prayed silently in the midst of stress and trials. I repeat it as often as necessary. The words are powerful, but there is a danger posed in anything that becomes habit. Words once meaningful and powerful become perfunctory and vacant. If you have a mantra or something you’ve gone to the trouble of framing, whether it be a quote, picture, or memento, chances are you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes seeing your golden ticket daily can diminish its potency.

So while there exists great power in words, the truth is, it’s a lot like lighting a match and forgetting to ignite the object in which will illuminate the room. You’re holding the key, but lack the sense to open the lock. Words, beliefs, values — these are passive. You must be active; you must put these concepts to work in your life. Knowing animal cruelty is wrong is a start, but essentially purposeless if you’re not going to actually do something about it. Same goes for everything else, emotions most certainly withstanding.

I am guilty of this charge; of knowing, believing, understanding, but lacking the sense to take action. It would be no understatement if I said that I have felt slayed by life recently. Beyond the reach of my fingertips, I ceased to venture. Not selfishly exactly, but a prisoner of my own devices. Consumed. I cannot think of another time when the entirety of my faith was tested in such a comprehensive manner. Undone: that is the best word I can think of to sum up the effects of recent events. Despair, hopelessness, and melancholy ruled proprietarily, executing the possibility of freedom at every turn.

Through my experiences, I have been inspired to write about it. Disorders and pre-exisiting conditions aside, the number one cause of depression in any given individual is the feeling that we are alone and unique in our suffering. It is the Great Deceiver.

What comes of this writing, I do no know; it may be book, or it may simply be a sequence of posts, but I know I must share what has transpired. For now, however, I am finished speaking about these things. After a certain point it begins to cause damage. Maybe you will have experienced something similar: in your heart, you yearn to move forward and move on, but somehow, against all efforts the conversation inevitably turns to the “issue,” and an hour later, you realize it’s the only thing you’ve thought or talked about. Makes it very difficult to move on — more like running in place. With one leg. Wearing a high-heel. While juggling scythes. You get the idea . . .

So, an active response is the only way to move forward.

There was this moment — I’m hoping I might remember it with more clarity when I sit down to unravel the strands of thoughts cloaking my brain — where the words were no longer habitual or vacant, but alive, really alive! I could see them, hear them, taste them, and feel them. Let go of what you cannot change. Suddenly, it was as if a film had been pulled back, revealing the startling accuracy of these words, to which they collided with understanding. I had to let go. Holding on to worry, fear, even curiosity would never amount to anything fruitful in my life. You and I, we have limited say in what befalls us. As my wise husband likes to say: “our bodies are in a constant state of deterioration.” These words are brutally true. With age comes wisdom and beauty, and so many wonderful moments and memories. But this ephemeral existence also promises the other side of life. There will be pain, there will be heartache, and there will be suffering of every kind. Because we are human, this will affect us; we will be pulled down and brought to darkness’ door. But . . . we don’t have to walk inside. We have the power to leave. To say, “this is out my control.” And in doing that, really, actually, thoroughly doing that, we will come out the other side, richer, fuller and more compassionate beings. I’ll take that over despondency any day, how about you?

We can be controlled, or we can relinquish it, but we cannot be its master. I share all of this, because I trust that I am not the first and only one to be subverted by my own two hands. My hope is that, if you are currently, or come to be in the future, slayed by life, you will remember this:

One of the Happiest moments in life, is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.

Blessings,

~ Cara

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35 thoughts on “The Balloons Will Fly

  1. I am so glad to see you back! Praying that this means you are actually able to sleep some again. :) I have experienced but a miniscule taste of insomnia as of late, and can only begin to empathize with the utter exhaustion you have dealt with… Blessings to you, and welcome back! <3 Shannon

    • With much thankfulness, I can say that, yes, I AM sleeping! It is the first thing I thank God for in the morning. Even battling bothersome issues, having a full night of sleep to hold me up makes all the difference in how I respond to them.

      I am so sorry to hear that you are battling the pernicious scourge. I pray that as you lay your head down on the pillow, the peace of God would engulf your heart and mind, and there you might soar easily into slumber.

      Blessings and love to you!

      ~ Cara

  2. I’m happy that you’re back, Cara. I just paused for a moment to write down the wonderful quote you referenced in your post. It struck a chord because someone said something very similar to me years ago that had a lifelong impact on how I’ve handled adversity in life. Its a philosophy I hope to pass on to my children.

    I hope you have been feeling better!

    Elisa

    • I am so glad you wrote it down! I hope seeing it might be a helpful message to you when facing adversity, and of course remind you of the dear friend you mentioned. I know for me, hearing this and repeating it, is something I need constantly.

      I have been feeling better, thank you!

      Love to you,

      ~ C

  3. So glad you’re back, Cara. Selfishly? This was a timely message for me to hear. Off I go to get ready for my day instead of waiting ten, another ten (and, then, slip into the routine you describe above).

    As for messages and words and prayers that have so much meaning, they’re oft repeated until they’re by rote — I could not agree more. That happened to me with The Serenity Prayer. My solution was to learn it in Spanish. I’ll move on to another language when that becomes rote.

    BONUS! You gave me a new and oh-so-inspiring picture and quote.

    Cyberhugs!

    • Thank you, Gloria! I guess I never thought of myself as “away,” but I suppose it does makes a lot of sense, actually. I have been very much away from myself for the past several weeks; slowly but surely I am returning to me. Feels good.

      Oh, I am so glad! Not selfish at all, really . . . my hope when writing anything, is that it will reflect and empathize with others, or simply make someone laugh. Why else take the time to express what’s on your heart?

      What a great idea, to learn it in Spanish! And after a while you can tell people you are multi-lingual!

      Cyberhugs back at ya!

  4. I had this same discussion with my physical therapist yesterday – turning loose of burdens you are not supposed to bare. Assuming the pain of a dying brother. Jumping in the grave with him. Letting him and his family deal with their unresolved issues…or not. Asking for the help of higher powers to smooth his path.

    I think it is particularly difficult for an empathetic person to accept that there are just some things they can’t fix…no matter how much your head understands this simple principle, your heart rebels. A war of conflicting priorities that often makes my health a casualty.

    Luckily, I have an army of folks at the ready to give me a reality check when I try to assume the role of The Great Healer.

    Sorry for the length. You seem to have hit a common chord. Nikki

    • Nikki,

      I think this is what many of us are working through, whether it be with therapists, or simply a friend or spouse. I doubt there is a single one of us who has mastered the art of “letting go” to the fullest degree. Yes, you’re right: anyone who has an innately compassionate or empathetic heart is going to have a tougher time dealing, listening to, and seeing others in pain — especially loved ones. It’s become so bad for me, that I can hardly watch the news for more than a moment before a lip begins to tremble. So much pain, destruction, hate, illness — it’s everywhere you look. Denying it is not the answer, but neither is thinking I am God and made to fix it all. We must do our part, play the role He has given us, whatever that looks like. His plans are Great, and we are blessed that He uses us to carry them through.

      Thank God for the “army of folks.” I cringe to think what I would do without my own army.

      Don’t ever apologize for length; the more the better, I always say, where words from the heart are offered.

      Praying you will let go and release all that which you cannot change and control.

      Blessings,
      Cara

  5. Sometimes we need time to simply ‘Be’, let ourselves off the hook and rediscover who we are and where we are. To do to this means resisting the temptation of ‘should’ and ‘have to’. The empty space can sometimes be scary to contemplate but as the saying goes “nature abhors a vacuum” and it soon fills up with good things :)

    • For me, it is a matter of knowing who I am in Christ. Me, human Cara, is not to be trusted or relied upon; she thinks thoughts that are not always herself, not always from the Good or the Light. I agree with you in that, I need to have grace for myself — especially now while I walk the stormy road.

      Though I continue to struggle and question, those Good things which you speak of are already happening.

      Thanks, Ella. Hoping you’re well!

      ~ Cara

  6. There is a great message here. It’s good to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been going thru my own dark patch the last few weeks. Maybe it’s turning 50 or the stress of caring for my parents daily, but I think I’ve cried more in the the last week than I have in the last year. I can relate to feeling alone and unique in your pain, as if no one could possibly know what you are going thru. Yep, that’s how I feel right now. Blah

    • Lori,

      My heart hurts for you . . . even though I cannot hear your voice, your despair and exhaustion are apparent. I cannot yet to relate to this stress you speak of, but can imagine. I expect in the next 5-10 years my time will come to care for my single mother. I would say that caring for those close to us is hard enough as it is, but then you add illness to the situation and it quite literally becomes unmanageable; because how can we not weep and agonize over our loved ones’ pain. And being human, how cannot we not feel as if our lives are being sacrificed day in and day out. There is hope, though. Knowing that nothing is permanent can be a tremendous comfort. In the thick of it one might feel as if the pain in never-ending, and insurmountable; but the day WILL come when you find joy again, are renewed in the most merciful of ways. You will find your heart light and your burden weightless.

      I will be praying for that day for you, but even more so for strength, that you might bear up under the weight of your load, and depositing it at the feet of our Lord.

      Please don’t hesitate to e-mail or Facebook me. Sometimes just talking through things helps.

      Love you, sweet lady.

      ~ Cara

      • Thank you angel! I’m trying some new holistic nutrition and hormone therapies. Hopefully, I’ll get straighten out soon. Your prayers are much appreciated. :)

  7. Thanks Cara for sharing thoughts that warms the heart. An eye opener to new possibilities or things I already forgotten. This I love, “One of the Happiest moments in life, is when you find the courage to let go of what you cannot change.” Beautiful words with a perfect image of the girl with the balloons.

  8. I can sense the growing strength in your words, Cara, and you have written with courage and hope. We all have our dark moments which sometimes stretch in to hours so you are not alone. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and quote. I too will write it down to remember and share. I look forward to your future posts! I am only now reading your post as I have been in California for a week and deliberately stayed away from the cyber-world to focus on exploring the northern coast. I confess I missed it and am trying to catch up reading blogs!

    Peace and love to you.

    • Thank you, Jonel. I’ve discovered that you can only write about courage and hope once the Lord has given you reason to pray fervently for both. My soul has certainly aged within the last 2 months, but there is a depth to me now, that wasn’t always there. I am grateful.

      California! I live in Southern California, so I wouldn’t have been able to meet up with you, but I hope you enjoyed your time up north, exploring. Did you visit any places in particular? The furthest north I have ever traveled is San Jose. And good for you! My husband makes me do the same whenever we go on vacation. Sometimes we need a little break from the world, which in turn gives us a chance to see it in a different Light.

      Peace and love to you as well!

      ~ Cara

      • We spent one night in San Francisco and then drove to Mendicino for two nights. We did the tourist things – took the Skunk Train from Fort Bragg, light houses, wonderful food.. Then one night in Santa Rosa to visit an old friend. The last two nights we stayed in Napa and did the Wine Train again as we had done it for our 20th anniversary 16 years ago and flew out of San Francisco.

        I thought about you but I remembered that you live in southern California which I enjoy also. Yes, I needed a break to make me appreciate what I have here on the Texas coast.

  9. This is beautiful. Years ago the pastor at my church preached about the power of the Lord’s Prayer, and how it can become route to us if we forget to think about the meaning. What you wrote about the serenity prayer reminded me of that. In my yoga classes part of the path to enlightenment is accepting what your husband said about our bodies, and the things we can not change. This is a powerful post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Melissa,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This post resonating with you brought a very warm smile to my heart.

      Ultimately, it is up to us . . . we can choose to mean the words we say, or we can recite them from a place distant and apathetic. The Lord knows our heart intimately; He knows when we are sincere in our words, thoughts, and prayers. There are times when I am praying — especially just before eating dinner — that I stop, or I stop my husband, noticing that one of us isn’t so much speaking to our King, but babbling half-hearted thanks in the hopes of getting to our meal quicker. There are many things that will attempt to form a wedge between our relationship with Christ; however, none more so than our than I, me, and us.

      On another note, Melissa, you are a common word on my tongue these days! I have had several people come up to me at the gym in the last month or so and ask what I do to keep in such great shape; and after I take a moment to properly blush, I say “Melissa Bender — look her up!” Your exercises are HUGE conversation pieces, which works both in and against my favor depending on whether I want to gab or get my workout on. ;-)

      Blessings to you and your family!

      ~ Cara

  10. A beautiful, thoughtful and caring message! One changes first when they come to grips with what is inside their heart and spirit, with a deep look at ourselves. You will rise in spirit again and you heart will glow radiantly again! Thanks again for the true message!

  11. Hi Cara,
    I hope you’re well.

    I thought it was just me having an off-patch. I would say I’m glad to have (such talented) company but it’s not ideal. I have ideas, they go down on paper then… they stay there. This is me at the moment.

    Maybe you should try tea instead of water… :)

    Take care,
    Chris

    • Oh, Chris, it’s never just you — know that. Any writer professing to dodge the black hole of unused ideas, is lying! And you’re right: it’s not ideal, no, but it does reassure one to know this benign ailment effects us all. I believe it’s the ones that overcome and accept this unavoidable step in the process that succeed. And I suppose that’s where the phrase “Just run with it” derived. One of these days, I’m just going to pick one and GO!

      All right, I’ll take your advice and go for the tea. ;-)

      Blessings to you!

      ~ Cara

  12. Nicely said. I seem never to have difficulty figuring out what to write. I keep lists of things I must complete–not all of them my novel. I blog for myself, for corporations, about 30 posts a week. I’m always saying something!

    • What a wonderful gift to have, Jacqui . . . I wish it was always that simple for me, but I suppose I put expectations on the quality of posts, and feel that if it’s important enough to say, I should invest time in saying it just the right way. I tend to complicate things like that. Takes all kinds, right? ;-)

      Happy Saturday to you!

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