Rather than a quarter life crisis, I have quarterly life crises. I frequently lose my existential footing, questioning everything around me, and then, like a child throwing a temper tantrum, I eventually quiet back down and continue on with my life, perhaps with an in-flight tweak or two.
The last nasty “crisis” was late fall. I don’t know if the timing was ironic or coincidental. Life was changing, but in a beautiful way — I was on jet planes to Nashville, Guatemala and Lake Tahoe to support my brother, and then, ultimately, a new sister-in-law. Joy and pride surrounded me and coursed through me, yet my soul was suffocating, and I was frustrated with the little black cloud following me around.
But soon after returning home and back to my daily ever-so-hectic schedule, the cloud started to dissipate, and then one day, I received two emails a few short hours from one another. The first was from a family friend, the kind of friend who’s so close as to be a relative. You know, the person who’s not related to you, but he/she might as well be because there’s a photo of you as a toddler in his/her living room. That’s Deb, a longtime pal of my mom’s. Deb and her husband came to Tahoe with us for the wedding, and we were able to spend a bit of time together. Deb wrote the following, completely unsolicited, email to me:
Just a note. I really enjoyed spending time with you this past weekend. You are one of my favorite people in the entire world and I think you are wonderful.
I thought, wow, that’s very nice.
Then, later on in the day, after an email exchange with my Mom belaboring a decision to withdraw from a local charitable social organization, she simply replied “the good you do has meaning.”
Why bring up October emails in February?
Because ever since that day, anytime the familiar self-doubt comes knocking at my heart, I keep this phrase as a talisman to ward off defeat.
Because you never know how your words will affect someone else, for good or ill. So why not make it good?
And because I wanted to tell you: the good you do has meaning.
Mom’s final note of that day was a quote by Arthur Golden (“Memoirs of a Geisha”):
A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory.