Life is like ice cream


Sometimes life feels like a root beer float. You just don’t know which direction to turn and whether to eat the ice cream first or suck out the soda and if you dawdle too long you’re left with a half-flat syrupy melted mess of calories that makes you want to throw up.  Nobody likes wishy-washy. Be decisive: life is short and the world needs more leaders that can make decisions.

But sometimes it’s like a banana split, where there’s a healthy mix of fruit and flavor wedged in between.  But I never eat the banana and I can’t stand strawberry ice cream so it’s all just for show and you might as well ditch the ice cream altogether and go for yogurt with granola.  Or perhaps you could just dive right in with chocolate almond fudge and be sure to have a salad for dinner, drink water, and run on Tuesdays.  Be true to yourself: do what you love.

Oftentimes, I find life resembles vanilla.  Not the from-scratch version with condensed milk your grandmother used to make that can totally hold its own, but the generic kind that comes in a box that tastes a little bit like cardboard.  And as the days plod on you just eat it because, well, it’s better to end with bad ice cream than have broccoli lingering in your mouth.  Some days are like that.  Be grateful for what you have: better days will come.

But there are times – oh the beautiful times – that resemble Italian gelato on a hot steamy night, when your breath is short and your hand brushes up against his and you feel so very lucky to be alive.  These moments might stay or they might vanish with the seasons of life, but let them roll around on your tongue so that you won’t ever forget them.  Be reminded from time to time of these special memories, even if they disappear: at least you had them and took a little break from cardboard vanilla.

I hate the vegan frozen yogurt phases, when you try so very hard to do the right thing but it’s all mucked up and funny-tasting and you just wish you could go back in time and just buy the damn sherbet.  You’ve wasted money and wasted time and it all feels so futile.  Be forgiving of yourself: we are all human and make mistakes and you need grace to start over.

And then there are the Sundaes, where things are sloppy and hot fudge is melting and we are all just lazy and droopy and sit around thinking of doing laundry but instead watch entire seasons of Homeland.  That’s a good refueling time, and necessary to counterbalance our hectic pace, and sometimes we just need to sit and hold the people we love without getting all Italian about it.  Be careful to schedule time to rest and gather your strength for the race ahead.

The crazy thing about life is that we all have our own precious identities that we cling to and people get all weird about it, like if you’re in Austin you go to Amy’s but if you’re in Upstate New York you might lick a cone at Stewarts and it’s all good because it’s ice cream, for freaks sake. Try new flavors and new stores and new ways to eat it.  It’s fun and sweet and usually not eaten at funerals. Be creative: you might be surprised at what you’ll learn about yourself.

In my sights ahead, though, is always a double scoop of gold medal ribbon and dark chocolate, because dreams are meant to be large and bold, and life should be lived with hope and expectations of great things to come.  If you constantly think Wednesdays will be filled with soupy floats there’s no being friends with the likes of you.  The weekend is coming, my friend.  The taste of salted caramel and the smell of baked waffle cones and the thrill of what is yet to come is what we live for. Be bold: there are dreams to be realized, and lived out, and embraced.

Life is like ice cream, only better.  It’s stressful, and at times we melt, but we can harden again.  We do not diminish but grow richer with time and experience.  There are so many colors and flavors to choose from, and ways to serve and enjoy them, and at the end we all go down smooth and mesh into the earth and our goal really should be to try to make a child happy on a hot summer day and have Jesus be pleased with our efforts. Be an example of a life well lived, full of richness and sweet.

Don’t live life half-way. Ain’t nobody likes low-fat buttered pecan. Trust me. Nobody. 



Rose-colored dreams

Sometimes I dream about silly things, meaningless combinations of people and daily routines and journeys to nowhere.  It’s like my brain can’t handle all the data and throws it together in perverted ways, going shopping for shoes while eating broccoli and meeting my husband for drinks without wearing pants.

Occasionally there is a peace that washes over my soul like blue waves.  I wake up softly, like on the shores of Maine, and flip over on the pillow with a sigh.  I thank God for coffee and warmth and softness, and it’s these moments I reach for him, lying beside me, to feel his touch.  These dreams are rich in color.  Green soothes my tattered nerves and Red rises up live lava from the underbelly of some great unknown.  Yellow bursts from clouds and Dark Violet erupts from the blackest of darkness.   Color is opera and it flows through my subconscious like a rich aria, and all I can do is be present in it, wallowing inside, basking in the glory.

And then the nightmares come.  Images that stain and bleed and cut so deeply I wake up gasping for breath.  I can’t shed the pictures and I end up churning and weeping and praying for my brain to un-pixilate the data.  It’s after these restless nights I wake alone in an empty bed with a dusty heart.  I want to shake these dreams free, angry at myself for conjuring up unwelcome images.  And yet they are all part of me, the waking and the sleeping and the living and the dead.  The sweet and the wholesome and the angry burning fire that consumes.

They all have their place, really.  The silly and the rich and the dark are all woven together to show what our minds are thinking while our bodies rest.  I had a dream once that a bomb landed in our home but didn’t detonate, and I went to the attic and clung to what I loved the most.  The very next day my life totally changed.  The bomb went off.  Pieces scattered.  I saw it coming.

I often lay in bed at night, wanting to find truth.  I pray and I read and mull over the day.  But truth is never evident in the twilight.  It’s only revealed after my subconscious repeats the day’s pattern a few thousand times.  When my body stops moving long enough to let God in.  And in the morning, things are clearer.  Not always more beautiful, mind you, but clearer.  Like a direction has been forged.

I don’t like the terror: I want to cling to the aria.  And yet we don’t get to choose these things.  We dream what we need to see in order to process life around us, and this is one thing we can’t control.  It’s a lesson to pay more attention to what your internal soul is trying to say.  To allow God a venue.  To hear the hard stuff.  Because it’s through the hard stuff that you grow, and change, and become stronger.

Dreams are not always rose-colored glasses.  Sometimes the rose turns dead and glasses break and we wake up hurting.  And yet there is hope that someday in the future we’ll wake up in Maine again.  That love will be there to hold onto.  That in time, the colors will return in waves, and we’ll smile in the knowledge that our souls are happy.  That we listened to truth.  And we’ll all dream about going to dinner without any pants while eating asparagus ice cream.

Oh my dear soul.  Let the silly come.