by Dave Markwell

The other day I was tired. This is not news. I am often tired. I wake up early and don’t always go to bed early. This makes me tired. On this day, I was so tired that I took a nap. This was not unusual, what was unusual was that I laid down on my son’s bed and napped while he watched Youtube videos and played video games after school. It felt really good.

My son has been “borrowing” my favorite blanket for several years now and it was nice to be reacquainted with my old friend. It also felt nice to bed lying in my son’s room. His smelly little cave is usually off-limits to me. But, this day, I took it. He tried to harass me into leaving, but I stayed. And I think both of us liked me being there.

Rapidly approaching my eleventh wedding anniversary, I look back to “then” and see a much different life. I was different and my wife was different. “We” were different. Through struggle and stubbornness, pain and love and trying, we have arrived at this place. And it’s a good place. Many honest, authentic and uncomfortable conversations got us here. We were changed by them. Thankfully.

In assessing our arrival at this place, I remember the other place. Selfish interest, pride, ego and immature ideas about what life should look like steered us down a path to destruction. We all have ideas about how life should be. These ideas are usually wrong.

Life is not a tidy business. It gets messy. “Two people becoming one” in marriage is an insidious idea. It violates our natural need for self-expression. And we need this more that we need another person. We simply need to be who we are and become better in the ways we want to become better. We need to evolve for ourselves, our own self-value, but it is a good thing when this evolution saves our marriages. It saved mine.

So, through eleven years of climbing and falling and climbing again, we are here. My wife and I understand each other better. We accept our differences and embrace our sameness. We are both free to be who we are and respect the other’s need to express our unique selves. Life is still untidy, but it works.

Last week, I heard someone say, “You have to give up the life to get the life.” I understood these words. Letting go is sometimes difficult. We cling to things that sometimes don’t serve us well. Many years ago, I scribed a thought in an old journal, “Some things change and some things don’t. Gratefully. This difference is knowing the difference. And moving on from there…” Understanding what we can and should change is important. But understanding what we can’t change may be a more significant insight.

Changing and not changing allowed me a wonderful mid-afternoon nap on my son’s bed. I felt close to him and a sense that soon his personal journey would be taking him out of our home. I was not sad, but felt grateful for mine and my wife’s efforts that afforded me this nice moment.

Life is a series of steps. Some backwards, some forward and some sideways. The direction of travel is not as important as keeping moving. A life in motion is a beautiful life and a warm spring sun shining through the window and a stinky pillow in a teenage boy’s bedroom is a fine reward for all the walking…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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