A moment to mark this simple, lovely quiet moment before it is swallowed by the noise, the absurd, and the ultimately meaningless. May this memory tide me over the next flurries.
Warm afternoon at home,
Electric fan buzz and breeze,
Me: chopping carrots and singing the Strumbellas
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I’m working on a new piece; it’s coming along well. I hope to have it out before I move away from the space where it’s the central insight. It’s called the slow march to progress and it speaks of growing up as a slow unfolding that often surprises us. As usual, I have too many ideas and I need to prune it.
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Life has been kind and well. I was at home with my folks for the last couple of days. Somewhere in this experience is a meditation on how our rhythmic return to home (to places, to people) is never really mundane, but drives us into deeper community with ourselves and the world. We gather a better sense of self in these meetings with people who love us, who have kept safe whatever of us they could catch. We remember and see ourselves through them and their memories.
For many years, I was irritated at my mother for being insufferably disorganized and hyper (accusations that could veritably be leveled on me now!). But this weekend, I saw it in different light. Maybe it’s because we’ve all gotten older and understood more of the world.
Before she retired, my mother took charge of the annual Christmas decorations in her office. Every year, she comes up these creatively themed DIY’s to the delight of her office mates. I have vague and sparse memories through the years of me trying to dip into her nighttime projects and her wild assortments of knick-knacks and baubles (personalized jars, paper birds, ribbons, little flowers with their wire stems, little paper-clay baskets with fruits, etc).
It wouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve developed a deep liking for crafts and working with my hands, a predilection discovered by a colleague when I took charge of decorating a room for my boss’s surprise baby shower.
She asked me for help in decorating some office spaces for Christmas. I felt the string of familial affinity strummed. I thought it a good project for her, she must have missed decorating for Christmas as she has been retired for the last couple of years. So I asked for her help. So she did help. That isn’t really the surprising part.
What surprised me this weekend is really her relentlessness. There is no other word to describe her stamina and energy. You’d think she’s this frail little 66-year-old with her right-leg hobble. Getting up before 7 , she moves from (physical) task to task with nary a break. She cooked and cleaned after breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with an assortment of respectable dishes); repaired my brother’s shorts; made some salsa from scratch; rallied the troops (grandkids) into the car; drove to a nearby shopping mall; shopped and bargained; conceptualized a design and strung together twigs into these pretty boughs and wreaths; and, managed to nag everyone to do what they’re supposed to do . All within a day. How? Most of the time, I found myself edging to bed because it was so damn exhausting just trying to keep up with her. That she only went to take a break at 6 pm–frankly, that was awe-inspiring.
I recognize the same impulse to do something, to create anything, everything. But here I am– the whiny, chronic over-thinker, who’s always in my bed. Here I am, trying to hold myself against measured beats, but always failing.
But this. But here it is, a possible version of myself if I refuse to be held down by my ambition regular cadences. It’s a chance, it’s a door, it’s a possibility. And if she could do that all in a day, what’s a blog post after work?
From my mother, (on top of an infinite of things), I learn relentlessness and stamina and another possible version of myself.