In the Tangled Thick of It

Arya Stark of Winterfell

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I’ve missed this space. I’ve been busy chasing a one-year-old toddler reading the Game of Thrones. After five years of graduate school, it is such a pleasure to lose myself in reading-for-fun.

But so many people are dying, or almost dying, betrayed, bloody or lost, in these books. It is a bit dizzying. Arya is my favorite character. She is ten years old, orphaned (we think), and her home is a smoldering, ransacked ruin. She is presently at sea, on her way to a country she has never seen and knows little about. I adore her.

My father always said, “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” That quit working for me about a decade ago. I’d rather expect the best — of myself, of life, of others.

But the best, the list of all the things I want to be and do, is so long. It isn’t just that I don’t have the time or money. I don’t have the energy. When did I get so old?

The Game of Thrones novels are thick, the stories long and twisting. Sometimes, reading, I get tired. Part of me imagines the conclusion — all ends tied, all journeys completed. But then I settle back in, content to travel, ready to be dismayed, excited, surprised, afraid, elated. I am so hopeful for Arya, even though she has been through so much and is so far from home. She is fiercer than she looks. I know she will do well.

Each morning as I drag myself out of bed, I am glad to hear my daughter’s voice. Within an hour, I am tired, yes, but that’s not all I am. I am fiercer than I look, too.

I want to know that I will do well — today, tomorrow, next year. Not always. I make plenty of mistakes. But I expect great things of myself and this life, the only one I have been given. Even though I’m tired. Even though some days it is all I can do to turn the page.

I won’t be a heroine or save anyone’s life. But I’ll be faithful to my own. My life is thick and, right now, this moment, I’m so glad to be in this…my messy, exhausting, complex story.

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What about you? How do you manage your expectations? What is it like, living your story?