First, let's review the 15 Things feature. In celebration of my 1500th post back last March, I vowed to do a series of posts on 15 Things I've Learned since beginning the weblog. The first job was to figure out what the 15 Things were. Then, over time, I've done posts on each of the lessons, up to this one, #13.
The 15 Things I decided on are:
#1 Time flies.
#2 I like risk.
#3 I am not my job.
#4 I make friends.
#5 I am a writer.
#6 People are kind.
#7 Things go wrong.
#8 I bounce back.
#9 Goals are fun. (I cheated a little bit and counted this post instead of crafting a special one.)
#10 I reach people.
#11 Being brave is better.
#12 The harder you look, the more beauty you can see.
#13 Things happen in their own time.
#14 It's not about being perfect.
#15 You'll never be lonely if you follow sports.
Okay. That was the brief review. Now, I'll post on # 13: Things happen in their own time. Unfortunately, I don't think I've truly learned lesson #13. If I had, I wouldn't be so damn impatient. Warning for the squeamish: there's talk about pregnancy and cervixes in the post below.
I suppose I can think of lots of things (jobs and boys, essentially) that I gnashed my teeth waiting for that showed up on my doorstep when I'd finally given up and moved my attention to something else. I'm not sure there's a happy ending in there, though. "If you really want something, give up hope and move on. When and if it does come back, you won't really know why you wanted it so much in the first place." Hmm.
I was talking to my very pregnant friend Mo about the process of giving birth. She said something about dilation and I interrupted her. "Okay, what exactly dilates, anyway? I've never really paid a lot of attention to that part of things." It's your cervix, the opening of your uterus. And she told me it doesn't just open up, but the uterus itself gets thinner. When the tissue around the opening gets thinner it's called "effacing." According to Mo, once contractions begin there are a bunch of measurements -- not just dilation, but also effacing -- that determine whether it's time to push the baby out. My best friend Autumn told me about giving birth to her daughter and said the hardest part was when her body wanted more than anything else to push but she was being told by the doctors not to push, and she had to try to direct her body not to push. Mo said that was about effacing and dilation. If you push when the cervix hasn't effaced enough, even if it's pretty dilated, it'll rip. That's bad. Ugh. The whole conversation had me making faces over my chai, and saying, "Mo, are you sure you want to go through with this?! It sounds bad." She shrugged and raised her eyebrows, patting her huge belly. "It's a little late to reconsider right now." I shook my head. Yowza. We've got to come up with a better way to grow people. This one seems needlessly destructive and painful.
So anyway, I was thinking about how I just want to push things through and that's not how life works. You can rip things that way. I haven't really learned this lesson. I want to be good at things right now. I want to dive into relationships instead of wading in and getting used to the water. When things and people don't yield to my timetable, I get mad at myself and feel impatient and ineffectual, like there's something wrong with me. I rarely question whether the timetable might be the problem. I think I've screwed up a number of romantic relationships because of this impatience. I suspect I will screw up a few more before I figure it out.
I think "things happen in their own time" is more of a mantra or an aspiration than a lesson I've learned. I know it's true. But how do you tell what "in their own time" means? And how do you wait without chewing yourself into pieces with doubt? I don't know.