Let the (balloons) fall (as) they may.
I threw a pretty big 30th birthday party for Ben last weekend. I bought way too much food, cake, drinks and decorations, but to say I would do it all again is an understatement: the look on his face when he walked in the door was worth every uneaten cookie and dipped chip (though I now have a better understanding of what it means to shop for 30 guests...as opposed to 75.) My favorite part about the way I decorated the house that night was the green, blue and silver balloons I had covering the ceiling of the house. Blue ribbon hung down from each one and 36 or so balloons later, the house had a totally different feel with a very childhood-era touch. I'd forgotten about the magic of balloons and the way they instantly make you feel like you're 8 years old. There's that sweet anticipation of mom or dad bringing out your personalized birthday cake, the excitement of the one day of each year when clowns come out, your friends' faces get painted and the whole day is just all about you.
Ben agreed that the balloons were no-doubt the best part of the whole affair (besides our wonderful guests, of course.) As the balloons stayed afloat long after our friends had gone home for the night, we looked around and debated how to get all of them in trash.
"We'll have to pop them," I said, squirming already in fear of that horrendous, piercing balloon-pop sound.
"Do you want to?" Ben asked. Of course, I knew immediately he was really asking if we could leave them up overnight. "I mean, I just love them!" he said.
So we left the balloons up, and then the next day, we decided to leave them up again. By Tuesday, we were still loving the new turquoise-hue of our childlike ceiling: neither of us could come up with a "real" reason why we couldn't just continue to live in a house covered in balloons until they started falling on their own.
Now I'm writing to you a full week after Ben's party, and about a third of the balloons are still high in the air. As the other two thirds began to fall on their own over the past week, I would pop them one by one and throw them into the trash. As we let the balloons fall in their time, the post-party depression was hardly there at all. As the week went by there were fewer and fewer balloons, but it happened so gradually that neither one of us really noticed.
So I feel catastrophically silly sitting here and writing to you about insignificant falling balloons this morning, but I couldn't help thinking as I've looked at the remaining ones that are scattered around the house how much I've "let the balloons fall as they may" in my own life. Instead of fretting about how to make something happen that I'm not ready for (which I used to be an expert at), I sit back and take my hands off and let things happen in their own time. When it's much bigger than balloons, and even when it's significantly smaller, there's an art to sitting back, taking a breath and understanding that everything we're not ready for is going to happen when we're ready for it, and we're going to get everything we need along the way in order to deal with it accordingly.
I can still remember distinct moments in my life when I've done the exact opposite. I've feared and panicked about how I might feel if something I'm not ready for were to happen immediately, and then I've obsessed about it to the point where I'm actually the one who's making it happen when I'm not ready for it. As I've learned to take a step back and contribute much less to my own cycle of fear and doubt, I've begun to see so much more clearly that all of the metaphorical "balloons" in my life are going to fall, but that I don't have to stand there and pop them all if I don't want it to happen all at once. God gives us time, the universe gives us time.
We're probably right when we suspect we're going to have to face things we're really not ready to look at. When it comes time to look at them though, we can count on being ready. We can count on it being a more gentle process, like the slow grace of a balloon that takes days to make it from the ceiling to the floor.
By the time each one lands on the wooden panels, I realize the trip wasn't really so painful after all.