Tuesday, August 9, 2016 | By: Lynn

Life is What You Make It?

My backyard is a place many different kinds of wildlife frequent. There are bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, ducks, and lots of varieties of birds. This past weekend we learned it's also a place for four raccoons to eat. If you offer food and water, wildlife will come. It’s very relaxing to watch the activity through our large, living room window. The chipmunk scurries around from one spot to another, ever vigilant for doom. Birds flock in, like waves reaching a shore, then flock out to the trees behind our house. Sometimes I follow a single bird with my eyes as it flies into a tree beyond the fence. I imagine that kind of freedom, to fly, would be exhilarating.

This reflection is leading somewhere, just hang in with me.

I believe many of us long for a degree of freedom. Or we think we want freedom. Freedom from the daily grind, as life is often referred to, the routine of work, drive home, eat, sleep, do over. Freedom from bills and health issues and commitments. But we understand that life is like that. We understand there is responsibility and struggle. It’s a box of chocolates and you never know what one you’re gonna get, according to Forest Gump. We accept that life has rules and physical structure. It’s a tradeoff, some say. We adhere to the rules and structure and in return we get things and friends and vacations and safety, among other things.

But it can take a bit of damping down sometimes to live according to our beliefs and societies beliefs if they define for us who we are and what we can do. We may secretly believe that we can’t have freedom without paying for it by abiding by constraints of being human in a society.

There’s another saying I believe in. It suggests that life is what you make it. The playing field doesn’t seem to be equal and some of us see that there are certain parts of life in the world to which we don’t have access. Our goals accept this and we live lives accordingly. I understand this well. But to a degree, it depends on what you consider life is about, I believe. Maybe we can have it all, depending on what “all” is to us. It’s up to us as individuals to decide.

In my books, a theme underlying the rules is the concept that life is not what we think it is. Now, in my Fierce Hearts series in which were-lynx live, that would seem to be a fantasy. We all know there are no such things as were-beings. But it’s a concept I loved writing about because I truly believe life is not what we think it is. It’s so much more when individuals can find, not freedom, but spaciousness. In Always and Forever Love, the heroine opens up to a possibility that she can connect with her dead husband’s spirit. That’s something to believe or not believe in real life, but it is a metaphor in my book for letting go of the beliefs, judgments, opinions that help us feel in control but that keep us confined in old structure where life is a set of ground rules. When the heroine opens to possibilities, she finds peace from her grief and love in a new way because spaciousness contains so much more possibility.

Spaciousness is a limitless, clear blue sky. Inner spaciousness is freedom. It can free us to see a new world and be in awe of what we can make of it. Laws of physics tell me I’ll never grow wings and fly into the trees behind my house like the birds. But in a world where I make choices from spaciousness, life can be exactly what I make it.

Here's an excerpt from Always and Forever Love in which Lacey is having a crisis that asks her to expand.

Lacey sat back down beside her sister, her hands wrapped around the hot mug, and sipped slowly. The anxiety and loneliness of last night began creeping into her day brain. She closed her eyes and searched inside her mind for strength. When she opened them again, she saw Sterling staring at her.

“What’s up, sis? Tyler at camp getting you down?”

“Tyler being gone for a bit longer I can handle.” She cast her gaze around the room, but all the while she was casting around inside herself for direction. “I couldn’t face the empty house while Jake’s in a place where I don’t know if he’s safe,” she said softly, feeling as though speaking it would make it all too real.

Sterling put her arm around her shoulders. “Let’s take stock. Your amazing spirit husband goes away, actually disappears. You start to have wonderful but disconcerting feelings for Jackson. You get run off the road and suffer a concussion. Then the man you may be falling for goes away, too. Is that about it?”

Lacey dropped her head to Sterling’s shoulder, not knowing whether to cry or laugh. “I think that is about it. Life is stranger than fiction sometimes, huh?”

“Apparently your life is.”

I'd love to learn your thoughts about the phrase, Life is What You Make It.

This post was first printed in my newsletter, My Backyard. To subscribe visit Lynn Crandall Blog.


HiDee said...

Deep thoughts, Lynn. I believe there is some truth to the saying. I try to be positive and happy as much as possible, and to be thankful for the blessings in my life. And yes, sometimes real life IS stranger than fiction!

Lynn said...

It sure seems like it at times, that life is stranger than fiction.

Maris said...

HiDee, I truly believe ones attitude makes a big difference in how a person views life. If you're sure things are going to be terrible and things will go wrong, chances are something will happen to reinforce that belief. Be sure you'll have a great time, and you probably will.

RT Wolfe said...

This is beautiful. My author friends cringe if I ever say, "Oh, it's just a book." It really is.
-R.T. Wolfe