Monday, August 15, 2011

What are you Mongering?

Monger - a dealer or trader of a commodity

I have a cousin who has struggled with anxiety for much of her life. Although she is a beautiful, intelligent and generous person she has always had a tough time when it came to being around other people. As a little girl she was always quiet and shy but as she got older some people mistook her shyness for snobbery or disrespect, this only compounded her anxiety.

By the time she was in high school she was a bit of a mess. Fear had her so entangled in a web of doubt and confusion that I don't think she knew which way was up! Somehow she made it through high school and graduated but I worried that all she could become was going to be wasted because of fear. My pessimistic self thought that she would settle for working her familiar job, living in her parents house and missing out on all the great opportunities that the world had for her because of fear.

I couldn't have been more wrong!

It turns out that the only thing my cousin was more afraid of than fear was not living the life she wanted, the life she dreamed of. Shortly after graduating something changed in her, for her. She caught a seed of hope and held on to it with shocking determination. Despite her fear of meeting new people and of speaking in public she enrolled herself in university. Even more surprising than that ... she actually went! Everyday she would stifle her fears and focus on the hope of her future, of being a nurse, of helping others overcome the struggles they face.

She graduated from university and went to work in a palliative care unit. She spent her days helping people face the biggest fear in life; death. She also became an instructor at the nursing college which required her to meet new people and speak in front of them, instructing them, regularly. During this time she got married and moved into her dream house. Her life was coming together exactly how she had hoped, except for one thing. My cousin wanted, more than anything, to be a mom but it just wasn't happening.

She dealt with infertility the same way she dealt with every other fear she had faced, head on and full of determination. While those of us who love her covered our fears with desperate prayers and false bravado, she had a calm certainty that she would, one day soon, be mom. Again, she was right.

Last Christmas she announced that they were expecting and this morning wee Julian was born. After 38 weeks of hoping, praying, planning and protecting this pregnancy, my sweet, brave, bold cousin went into labor and birthed this beautiful baby boy like a champ!

When I received 'the call' from my sister this morning I was humbled by the courage of one determined woman. My cousin knew the dream she had for her life and she chased it down with all the strength and  courage of a warrior. I can't even imagine the struggle against fear and exhaustion she faced some days but through everything she persevered, her hope won out over fear time and again.

I often think of my cousin as a hope-monger. In a world where people often make decisions based on fear, she lives on hope. Instead of letting her fear of other people, their opinions and judgements govern her life she moves through life in the direction and at the pace that she knows is right for her.

She exudes strength beyond her own means and confidence that life will be everything she wants it to be just as long as she never loses faith. She is an inspiration to me. If ever anyone had an excuse to crumble under the weight of fear, confusion and depression it could have been her but she didn't. She got up each day and kept moving forward. It wasn't easy and many days the weight of circumstance seemed almost too much for her to bear but on those days she asked for help and allowed those who love her to help carry her load.

So, when I look at Julian, the tangible proof of the power of hope, I wonder ... what am I mongering today? Am I selling joy, hope and acceptance or am I dishing out fear, pessimism and anger? Am I a dealer in kindness and love or in meanness and disdain? Am I a life monger or a death monger? What am I mongering?

Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.
~Don Quixote

No comments: