FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Broken bits.

by Dave Markwell

I don’t work on Tuesdays. By “don’t work”, I don’t mean that I lie on the couch eating delicious grilled sandwiches all day. (Though, this, frankly, sounds like a pretty damn fine day…) Tuesdays are my day to pick up the pieces of my home life neglected since the previous Tuesday: Laundry gets done. Nominal housework gets done and all the running around that needs to happen happens.

Last Tuesday was a lovely day. As such, it was a yard day. Early autumn weather in this state is a crap-shoot. I happened into some good luck and did not waste it. I fired up my line-trimmer, mower and blower and chopped and raked and mowed and blew my tidy edges.

It was a day I needed. Being a yard guy, I find peace in my little “meditation-in-motion” chores. I think big thoughts, solve my problems and return to a certain center that is sometimes hard to find; it can be an elusive target.

This Tuesday was especially necessary as I am somewhat broken right now. Life, as it does, has presented me with a challenging time. I write this not to inspire any sympathy or pity. It’s simply life. Gratefully, I am armed with the awareness that difficult times pass. Nothing lasts – the good or the bad. I share my brokenness not as a salacious conversation starter, but only with a hope that other broken people don’t feel alone.

As I logged steps behind my lawn mower, I pondered my broken bits and while little clarity revealed itself to me, I was somewhat comforted by the understanding that I am not alone either. Though not happy about anyone else’s misery, the knowledge that we all have our own pocketful of broken bits does serve to dull the sharp blade a bit.

Every one suffers varying degrees of trauma, tragedy, abuse, struggle and hardship. Parents die young, cars crash, economies turn and relationships change. These events are simply life. They are the price we pay for breathing air on this earth.
An idea spawned by the smells of fresh cut grass and 2-cycle engine exhaust is that perhaps our broken bits are the best things we have. Having our own sack of broken bits allows us to access other people’s broken bits. When we truly “get it”, we can connect. This empathy creates the axis for the genuine heart-to-heart human connections upon which our world turns.

Understanding our own fear, uncertainty, and conflict allows us to understand others’. And this is a good thing. It is said that: “Friendship multiplies happiness and divides grief.” This division of grief is powerful and it can only exist with the understanding of our own broken bits. This little reframe on our “brokenness” suddenly makes it kind of beautiful. Not fun, but still beautiful. We can serve better and be better for those who deserve us to be better, including ourselves.

So, while the broken bits we carry in our pockets can make us uncomfortable, they may also be necessary for us to grow and give and live better lives. This idea makes those sharp little devils jabbing into our leg a little more tolerable. It is easy in our brokenness to lock the doors and close the shutters. We want to isolate and protect the unbroken bits. But perhaps we should just be sprinkling our busted little shards all over the place, so that others can have a look and maybe feel a little better about their own broken bits and not feel alone. No one is alone.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the new Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave 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, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.

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