Whittier, Forleo, and Grits


Cash came home from the school the other day needing to mark on a map the birthplace of the poet John Greenleaf Whittier. I had not heard of Whittier before, but a couple days after I helped Cash look on Wikipedia to find out where he was from (Haverhill, MA), I came across Whittier’s name again in the book I was reading, Adam Alter’s Drunk Tank Pink. In his argument on flags being powerful symbols of nationalism, Alter quotes part of a Civil War poem Whittier wrote.

In a chapter of Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing, Emily mentions the writer Marie Forleo, whom I had not heard of before. Then, a few days later, I listened to a podcast episode of “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” and the very same Marie Forleo was being interviewed by Gretchen about her new book Everything is Figureoutable.

Maybe Forleo meant everything except how for forty years, both Whittier and Forleo were unknown to me, and then they were introduced twice in a matter of days.

Such an occurrence is as mysterious to me as Oak Hill Cafe’s decision to remove the Grits Bowl from their menu the very week I went back to get it again (this morning). Also, I arrived to a locked door at the restaurant and found out they open thirty minutes later than they used to. I had even checked the hours and the breakfast menu on the website early this morning just to be sure I had the details straight. I try so hard to be exact, to know what the plan is, and to follow through, and I expect others to live in this manner too.

Reality check. This life is a mystery. What I’m not expecting sometimes happens, and what I am expecting sometimes doesn’t. Things are strange. People are stranger. And therefore, I get extra practice with living into the phrase I’ve been repeating at the start of every day: I don’t mind what happens.

The truth is, I did mind that Oak Hill changed their menu and I couldn't eat grits like I planned. I did mind that they changed their hours without changing their website. I did mind that I didn’t go to Tandem instead. The other truth is, I had to come home after breakfast and journal through my disappointment so I wouldn’t let it disable me for the rest of the day.

If I keep up the good work of not minding what happens, I can be open to the surprises and treasures all around me. I found connections between poets and authors when I was least looking, and it felt like life had something to teach me. I found good coffee and good conversation with my friend Megan this morning at Oak Hill in spite of the absence of grits, and it felt like life had something else to teach me. I didn’t get the grits this time….maybe just a little more grit.