This is the last post of my September commitment, an exploration of a month-long journey to “wade in” to the currents and eddies of my life. It’s hard, producing something every day that you’re not plain embarrassed to post; it’s hard finding meaningful ways to look at your life when you’re tired and scattered and worn down. But like most writers, I find regular practice does in fact support more and better writing; like most mindfulness practitioners, I find regular commitment does in fact sustain clearer vision and deeper breathing. No news here.
I thought I’d like to sift back through the posts of this month and pull together their various tools or insights, the images I liked the best, the ideas you seemed to like the best. But then I realized that that would feel like more dodging — the kind of subtle, artful dodging I’ve come to understand as my most pernicious habit. I’d do it under the guise of critical review, or summative reflection, or some other noble impulse, when it’s also really a way for me to avoid saying anything new.
So here are some things that have been sticking with me, in the ways that my “wading” approach to life encourages:
Our favorite farmer at the market comes from Somalia and spent years in the Dadaab refugee camp before coming here. She participates in the market through a program called Fresh Start (formerly the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project), which engages new Mainers who used to farm back home in farming here, offering land and lessons in climate and crops. Every week after we buy what we need, she sneaks around from behind her stall and tucks into our bag, or hands to one of our small boys, something extra: a pepper, a head of broccoli, a delicata squash. It is a gesture so kind and familiar that every week it breaks my heart open a little. And I want to ask her — someday I will — if during those brutal years of flight and transition, and even now in the difficult journey of her life, if she hoped to feed a family like mine. Because she feeds us. She is our farmer and she gives us nourishment. I love her strength and power and generosity, and I am grateful for it, for her, for the funders and organizers and smart people who made it possible for someone kicked off her own patch of earth to nourish others from a new one.
Also, just today: my boys and I raked the driveway leaves (drier than the fog-ridden lawn-leaves) into a big pile and jumped and tossed and buried each other in the heap for a lovely warm half-hour. Then Ezra wandered up the driveway a bit to gather a new handful and began to scream. I turned toward him, running already, as he bent over, batting at his face and clothes and screaming, screaming, screaming. Just a few weeks before, he’d noticed a yellow-jacket hive in the maple over the driveway, but it had clearly been there all summer and we had never had any problems, so we let it be, hoping for an early frost. But all of a sudden, they swooped in on this tiny man, stinging him four times on the face and neck and twice on the hand. One sting, on his eyebrow, actually drew blood. He was sobbing and shaking in full-blown panic — of course! — as I batted away the remaining bees and hauled him down the driveway toward safety. It took nearly an hour for the tremors to subside completely, and an hour more for him to externalize enough to look out the window and explain that those yellow-jackets were the ones that had stung him. His left eye is still swollen shut, but he’s back in the saddle now, and I can’t help but marvel at the resilience of his being. A massive, painful assault, out of nowhere, in the middle of a joyful morning’s play, and he can squint his way back to a recognition that maybe they thought he was a danger to their nest. I am astonished all over again at the courage of a human who hasn’t yet lived for four years on this earth. (Or maybe, I suppose, that’s the ticket.)
As we leave September now and head into October, things pick up speed: our fifteenth anniversary; many, many family birthdays; various programs and projects I’m working on will move ahead more quickly. But I want to carry this month of transition, of intention, of courage and hope, with me into the rest; I want to remember that time is both more finite and more elastic than I pretend; I want to choose more often the life-giving activities that make more of me and of us. I want to develop my capacity to know what I’m avoiding and to look at it in clear light; I want to dive in more deeply where and when I can. (There, I should add, is my one pleasure at releasing this commitment to daily posting: some of these ideas need longer exploration and more research, and there’s been no time on this schedule. But soon, soon.) Thanks for reading along on these daily posts! I look forward to hearing from you as it all keeps unfolding.