The Gifts of Mud

I was texting my friend Kevin awhile ago and he gave me a pep talk on staying positive. I replied that mostly, I am staying positive. I just wish the future wasn’t so muddy. He replied, 

The future is muddy regardless…just sayin’!

I paused to think about what he said, then had to agree he was right. The future is always muddy. Regardless of well-laid plans, current health conditions, or whatever else is happening right now, the future is muddy and uncertain.

In the book, “The Immortalists”, one of the characters states that her mother gave her the gift of uncertainty. When I read this, I had to set the book down and ponder. Uncertainty is a gift? How is that even possible? I had to unpack this idea.

So how can uncertainty be a gift? I suppose one way could be that with uncertainty there are many different possibilities and opportunities. Anything can happen and the outcome may be better than what I had planned. In this way, uncertainty can also unleash creativity. It can also lead to asking more questions, which leads to learning and growth. All of these are gifts.

In thinking about it further, though, I believe the greatest gift is how uncertainty can bring people together. To me, relationships matter more than anything and uncertainty can bring people into our lives who not only sit with us in the mud, but help us get through it and stay positive as well. 

This reminds me of some advice from the mom in the book, “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens.  She decides to take her daughters out for ride in their old skiff in the swamp area near their home. In the course of their fun outing, the skiff comes too close to the shore and they get stuck in the mud. They all jump out, getting their feet and clothes muddy and push the boat back to open water. They climb back in the boat, flop down on the bottom, stick their muddy feet in the air and laugh at the sight. The mom then says, 

You all listen, now, this is a real lesson in life. Yes, we got stuck, but what did we girls do? We made it fun, we laughed. That’s what sisters and girlfriends are all about. Sticking together even in the mud, ‘specially in the mud

I would add that it’s not just sisters and girlfriends that can stick with us in the mud, but brothers and other men too. It’s the mud in our lives that unites us. The mud can draw us closer together. We can help each other stay positive and see the gifts in the mud. Together we can cry, laugh, and maybe even make a few mud pies.

And overarching all of this is to remember that if uncertainty and mud are gifts, they should be received as any gift should–with gratitude and grace. So expressing gratitude for the mud–for the things I learn and for the people and experiences it brings–is a healthy and positive way to handle the uncertainty of life. Norma, my dear friend and Kevin’s sister, quotes the words from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In all things give thanks.” This means giving thanks for ALL things–even the mud, ‘specially the mud.

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