>> Monday, November 30, 2009
I'm a bit disheveled.
I'm a bit disheveled.
I've discovered the dog has been sleeping on the bean bag in the playroom. I walk in, looking for a comfy spot to sit and write, and there's a coating of thick blond hair trapped in the grooves of the corduroy. Damn dog. He's never been allowed on the furniture. But I can't really blame him.
I climb down from the top bunk, placing my foot on each rung, stealing away from the quiet whispers, secrets from the day tucked under hand-me-down quilts and buried under pillows.
He shares his snapshots in these stolen moments. After the Goodnights, the Go to sleeps; before lids fall heavy. After X marks the spot (with a dot, dot, dot) and before the chest rises and falls to the steady rhythm of dreams.
He tells me his stories. What he pulls from his day, the truth that he gleans is only a shadow and it’s all I have. How would it measure against the color image? Would I recognize the day from his telling? The unfolding appears differently than it would to my eye. I wonder which silhouettes the other children take home, projecting them against quiet walls in dark bedrooms, lit dimly by the glow cast through a door ajar?
I’m grateful for these whispers, the songs sung in hushed tones, the inaudible prayers uttered from barely moving lips, heard only by the ears to which they were intended.
The nights are work. I bend over water, washing them clean; over naked skin, diapering, dressing them fresh and swaddling secure. We dim lights, sing lullabies, and pace with cradled arms. They call out – with thirst, for warmth, a craving for affection; the prolonged delay of my coming lost on them as I shift the baby to my hip, offering a cup, a hand, a touch. I’m coming. Another minute, and I’m coming.
I bend again, deeper, and the baby finally rests, slumbering safely in his crib; and I straighten and turn, finally returning as promised. One breathes the telltale rhythm, burrowed into pillows and under blankets, having lost the battle in wait, in vain. I straighten and tuck and kiss before climbing the rungs to the restless one tossing in the top bunk.
He rolls the day like a stone, turning it over, finding the treasures and the bugs; making sense from the chaotic order of his day. We lay in the quiet, and I inhale his scent, wrapping my arms around his slender frame, marveling at his metamorphosis. He turns, gazing up at the stars dangling above his pillow. I can make out his profile in the dark, and I listen intently to his stories; straining, sharpening my focus – his words are all I have to piece together his time away, his separate sphere where he clearly thrives and grows, where he creates a world all his own, to share or not.
At the most subtle of invitations, I enter; and I’m grateful for the telling. Grateful that the way he makes sense of the world is through stories, through words. It is a process I understand.
I could listen for hours, bits and pieces settling out from the reaches of his mind, pictures bubbling to the surface when he stills himself. But it’s time for sleep.
And it’s time for me to uncurl myself, to straighten from the bending, to ground my feet and stretch my arms skyward, to still myself and let my stories surface.
Because it is in the telling that I find it, projected on the wall where I can step back or look closely, examining the details and the whole.
I haven't been drawn here much lately. I've been feeling the pull towards my journal instead, and everything I write seems to be too long or convoluted to transcribe into a post.
It’s because I’ve detected quite a build-up of mental crud in recent days, and my normal strategies for clearing it out have not been working as effectively as usual.
I’m not depressed – not at all, actually. I've just been letting in too much stimuli. Distractions and information are ubiquitous, and my filters must be dismantled because currently there is a chaotic mass of swirling madness orbiting the inside of my head.
I think this is one of the dangers of information accessibility. Facebook, twitter, even hopping online to check the news -- one link leads to another to another; there is so much happening all over the world - some of it important and a lot of it nothing more than a complete time-suck. For me, the outlet pulls me out of the present, it blurs my focus, bombarding me with information to be processed and filed away. It takes up mental space that I want to fill with other things; space that needs to be open in order to absorb the present.
But it isn't just The Internets. I walked through a bookstore today and almost felt stressed out at the presentation of literature, information, entertainment, news, guidance that I will never, ever get a chance to read.
And how about hobbies? I'd love to be knitting for this winter, but it lands lower on the list than writing and reading, which I struggle to find time for as it is. I've all but given up on painting, and I'm still deciding whether cooking needs to be relegated from Hobbies to Obligations.
I know what I want, what I need, to do. I need to flush it all out. To detox. To free myself from the accumulation of mental crud. Maybe then I'll be able to write here, to write coherently, again. But re-grounding has been harder than usual -- I've fallen out of practice over the last weeks, and I think some of the goo has calcified, now requiring a chisel.
But I'll get there, because like the bumper sticker, I'd Rather Be Here Now. I'll clear my mind and refocus on the present. I'll clear the crud and create some open space to absorb the little gifts of each moment that can so easily be missed, slipping off without a chance to be noticed or appreciated because I'm too distracted thinking about everything but
Because when I let headlines and tweets and status updates, to-do lists and the weight of obligations hijack my focus, then what am I missing? What would I notice, would I soak in if I looked and listened and felt mindfully; aware of myself and my space and my company (usually my children) rather than cruising through the day on autopilot? What would inspire me? What would I learn if I stayed in the moment - listening, watching, participating?
I know that when I remain present I am a happier mother, a better person than when I let the distractions echo through my brain. I know that when I stay present, when I see each moment for what it is, life passes at just the right pace. I don't want to look back and say where did the time go? what happened this last year or month or week? I want to soak it in, to enjoy it.
So I’m working on it. I’m gonna clear out the crud.
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all artwork by Eli, 2009