As number eight of ten children, I have played a fair amount of hide and seek in my lifetime. There would be games where there were six or seven of us all playing hide and seek together throughout the house. And let me tell you, even though hide and seek sounds like a tame pastime it was not. It got wild. In fact, at one point my mother had to officially ban hide and seek in our home, and from then on we had to ask permission to play it.
My brother’s favorite hiding spot was in the very top of the linen closet in the hallway. It was a giant closet full of the ridiculous amount of linen it takes to maintain a family of 12. And he would climb to the very top and hide among all the blankets and sheets.
We had a window seat in the hallway with a bench you could climb into. That was a popular hiding spot if you could get somebody to help you rearrange all the cushions and pillows back on it after you hid inside. The sock basket in the laundry room was also a very popular spot. It was exactly what it sounds like: a gigantic basket full of the number of socks it takes to maintain a family of 12. (We have long since upgraded to a different method when it comes to socks.) But again, that took cooperation from your fellow players.
Can you see now why my mom banned the game? I never got it until I was older.
It was usually fairly easy to find the first few people. But my older siblings were always the best at hiding, of course, and so if it ever began to take too long to find somebody we’d have to shout, “Give me a hint!”
It was then the privilege of whoever had picked such a good spot to make whatever noise they deemed necessary to lead us to them. It was usually some variation of a high pitched hoot.
I’ve been thinking for some time now about all of this, and about how life can seem very much like a game of hide and seek sometimes. I think that, as humans, we tend to get caught up in the fact that we’re all looking for things. And how we can’t always seem to find them right away.
And the entire world is stuffed to the brim with cliches about how life isn’t about always seeking and you should enjoy the journey and blah blah blah. Not that I am knocking these cliches. It is my firm opinion that cliches exist for a reason. So don’t disregard the cliches.
However. The older I get, the more I come to realize how individual life is. We are all connected in so many ways, I believe much more than we know. And yet life isn’t a “one size fits all” type of thing. It just isn’t. Everybody’s story is different. I believe that there are lessons each one of us needs to learn. But we all learn them differently. And thus, nobody’s life is exactly the same.
Another thing I have learned is that in so many situations you have to do what is best for you. That could mean a lot of things, but at the end of the day, you have to live with yourself. Your personal wellbeing is what is really important.
I think that in today’s world this idea can get over exaggerated to the point of selfishness. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about living the life you’re supposed to live and waking up every morning knowing that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
And the thing about life is that we all make mistakes. We all do things that we sort of regret or really regret or crazy deeply regret. But that’s just the way it is. Our tendency to do human things doesn’t change the truth of what is really in our hearts and souls. We are so much more than a bundle of substances. You only have to look deep into somebody else’s eyes to see that.
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I was the worst seeker in the hide and seek game between my siblings. It seemed like it took me hours to find everybody. And life feels like that sometimes, too. You feel like you fail over and over again to find something or get somewhere you think you should be. But the reality of it is that you’re just living your life, walking down your own path. And that’s going to look different for you than it does for others.
I heard it said once that if we could hang everybody’s troubles up on a clothesline you would choose your own every time. I have always found this very interesting, and yet very true every time I really think about it.
As a general rule, I think that we tend to be our own worst enemies. And that isn’t fair.
I was told recently that a lot of my views would only work in an ideal world. It hurt me pretty deeply until I thought about it some more. And then it was pointed out to me: shouldn’t we be striving for the ideal? We are imperfect people in an imperfect world, but shouldn’t we always be trying for something better?
And I think that’s the key. You may feel lost or you may feel that you can’t find your way. But if you do your best, whatever that might be from day to day, then you’re striving towards the ideal. And it isn’t always enough to tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. Even though it absolutely will be. You are okay and you are enough today. Right now. Just as you are. Any steps you take should just be in order to illuminate what is already beautiful.