My erstwhile epitaph isn't the only phrase that I've been able to transform, through growth, from bitter to sweet. There's also the formerly dreaded one-two punch: for now.
In the past, "for now" was the phrase uttered with a sigh as I made do in ways I didn't enjoy: Stacking cardboard boxes by my bed in lieu of a proper bedside table. Eating dinner at a borrowed card table when I couldn't afford to buy one. Wearing what was in my closet even though none of it made me feel alive.
Those words were ponderous as funeral bells, bitter with resignation, empty of faith that any other, more prosperous or beautiful time would ever come. It seemed that all my life had been one "for now" compromise after another, and that feeling twisted my lips with resistance.
Not any more. I've learned that now is all we really have, so choosing the best you can do for that time is all we can expect. I've experienced better days, too, when creativity scored higher than financial paucity. I've learned to think differently and to tell different stories about my circumstances. Those last two are the crucial parts.
I may have freed my mind, but I still have limitations. It is, in fact, difficult for me to imagine a life without them. When my husband challenged me recently to think of a fun financial goal (debt reduction didn't count as fun apparently--I have no idea why), I had to reach to find options. I guess I might like to go to Europe or buy good antiques. I've just never planned for such things before and have ceased to feel bereft without them when life is so rich here and now.
It's even hard right now to remember other examples of my deprivation, even though this phrase has hovered on my formerly-only-mental To Write About list for years. It seemed back then a fertile ground for exposition. Now, with my wantings blunted by wisdom and more desires satisfied, there seems not much more to say than, "I used to hate that phrase. Now I get it".
I relish being so healed of emptiness that I can no longer remember how wronged I thought I was. The truth is that we've all been wronged, and hurt and deprived of something, too. I'm not special that way. I'm merely normal. No carrying on is necessary these days when I do something "for now."
When we moved into this barn, I hung up $6.00 clearance sheers that I already had "for now." With their skeleton-key-and-hemp tie backs and their lightness balancing the salvaged wood walls' darkness, I still kinda like them. They're not too bad, for now or maybe later, too.
The other curtains in the house were made of fabric long held or improvised, not directly chosen. They don't offend me either at this stage of my life. I suppose there's something out there I would find more perfect or desirable, but it doesn't feel urgent. I have bigger things on my mind right now: my consuming job, my hobby, dinner every night. They're just curtains, not symbols of my lowly compromising status. Besides I'm not entertaining myself by shopping, which just brings me across more things to want from without instead of within. Why court longing? There's plenty naturally, the good kind.
Here's another fact I've realized while writing these rambling thoughts (I love when that happens): the examples of bitter compromises that I could think of were mostly about home decor. Obviously, that is very important to me. I'm having fun getting dressed these days, loving having better--well, more satisfying--clothes, but home is always my queen. Photographs of beautiful rooms are where I escape during my blessed Sundays. Spending money on our house was one of the few enjoyable options to jump to mind after my husband's challenge. It's good to know the sources of one's joy. Easier to find it that way.
The dreaded phase "for now" doesn't weigh heavily and bitterly any more because I do know myself and my needs for happiness better. Coming into my own makes it easier to believe that even if I am making do for now, the future really might bring something more suitable or more lovely. But even if it doesn't, ca ne fait rien. Joy is available "for now," too.