We are in the middle of summer, swinging between activities and leisure time, while trying to navigate the dawn of tween behavior and momentum on a writing project. The pace of summer is usually one I enjoy, but the cadence this year offers its own set of challenges. Part of the consternation involves a reluctance to dive into one state completely. If I am watching a movie with my family, I often have my laptop at my side, contemplating story ideas or checking on freelance opportunities. I am not always faithful to the present. The lines between mother, writer, self and family blur into one another and I throw my hands up, wondering whether I am bringing my best to any one role. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve written enough or mothered enough or managed my home enough. But rounding the corner of accepting this maxim pulses with liberation.
This consistent questioning lends to restlessness, but also a push toward becoming a better person, writer, wife and mother. The thought of apathy is frightening to me – it’s a surrender to circumstances and a failure to work for something more. Instead, the idea of not being enough reveals a more complicated terrain – the willingness to examine your personal behavior and where you should make improvements or try harder. It’s a self-created chaos, but I believe it’s necessary. This particular perspective conjures Socrates famous line, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I realize as a writer, it is a part of my makeup to continue to examine, to reflect, to arrive at some kind of conclusion and then start at the beginning again. This whittling away is necessary and sometimes it isn’t until later that you realize what will take shape.
Through the last few years, I’ve begged myself to trust the chaos. As much as it might offer discontent, I wholly realize this is part of the process. The calm will reveal itself if I choose to pay attention. I needed this reminder yesterday. The goal was to ride bikes with my daughter, but because of a flat tire or my ineptitude in trying to fill a flat properly, we aborted our cycling to another day. Instead, we chose to walk around the neighborhood as a way to enjoy the outdoors.
My daughter and I passed by houses, smelling the familiar scent of laundry detergent, barbecue smoke and lavender as we walked toward the end of the street. The air filled with a quiet, except for the buzzing of bugs, the occasional car dawdling on the street and kids on their electric razors. As we edged farther away from home, we both looked up and saw the sky, the azure blue connecting the trees, the moon overhead, the golden-saffron horizon announcing its presence on the horizon. I couldn’t resist the beauty and captured the glow of this moment. Yes, I thought to myself. This is the space between the chaos and the calm.
I felt engaged in the moment. Only milliseconds, but yet it was there. The stillness. It’s elusive as we immerse ourselves in our day-to-day. But this space reminds me of the universal, a refuge where I seek to be patient and in the background, I hear my daughter gaining the same appreciation when she says, “It’s beautiful, Momma. Look at it.” This setting, my recognition of the vastness and my daughter’s appreciation of the same, reminded me of the following words by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”