My granddaughter, Meena, is two. She has a habit. After nearly every suggestion I make she says, “Okay.” I suggest “Let’s change your diaper,” or “Let’s eat,” “Let’s take a bath,” “Let’s go outside,” or “Let’s go home now,” and she says, “Okay,” and excitedly hurries to begin what we’re going to do.
I began wondering if she thought okay meant yes and no. Though she said no on occasion, until I presented an option several times and she said no each time I offered the suggestion, I wasn’t convinced she understood the difference between okay and no.
But she said no as chipper and clear as she said okay, and I was thus reassured that she’s communicating clearly.
She’s so decidedly amiable, it’s a joke in my home. My husband and I often exchange glances and shake our heads smiling.
On Wednesday when my husband picked Meena up from pre-school, the assistant teacher pulled him aside to relate an incident. Another child had hit Meena with Legos and was reprimanded by the teacher. The little girl who hit Meena was tearful, so Meena went up to her, put her hand on her shoulder, and asked if she was okay.
Lying in bed last night, I was going over several personal disappointments. (Why is it life is most haunting when you’re trying to fall asleep?) For the past month I’ve been wrestling with a strong desire for something. Regardless, no matter how much energy I put into achieving it, I’m not getting what I want and my health is weakening. But I feel justified in having my desire. It’s not a wish for personal gratification, but something I want to do to help others. It seems fair enough to have a genuine selfless desire and put my heart fully into it. Why wouldn’t God see fit to bless such an attempt? Unfortunately, I’m fretting not only about not receiving my desire, but also about how much I want to let go of it. After years of coming up against life’s walls, I’m convinced that turning myself over to the intelligence of life is not only sane, but the only way I can live peacefully – and honestly. But here I was, losing sleep again every night for the past month over a desire — an old pattern I don’t want to slip back into.
All last year, no matter what was thrown at me (and heavy loads were hurled), I succeeded at being fully joyful, present, peaceful, and surrendered. I slept and experienced the best health I’ve had in seventeen years.
Last night, as I continued beating myself up about being such a jerk for having a desire and berating myself for my long-standing impatience to let life unfold as it will, I suddenly remembered Meena and her happy okay.
That’s it! I reasoned. Meena’s approach to life makes her happy and she makes the job of her caregiver delightful. I’d care for her and love her even if she were ornery. But the tenor of this relationship — where I can fulfill my role as her caregiver: holding her to regulation, cleanliness, and discipline, teaching her, and giving in to her own little plans when I can and treating her to sweets and other delectables when it doesn’t compromise her health – this relationship is so pleasant, it’s nearly ecstatic.
That’s the relationship I want to have with the divine. All I have to do is say okay and trust. Of course, I can fight and scream, “Nooo”, (as I have in the past) but that’s not going to change a thing, and I’m really tired of suffering.
“Okay, okay,” I said happily last night, smiling at myself and accepting my nature. Then I turned over and fell asleep like a baby.