Thursday, December 1, 2011

Over the Threshold

Oh, God, I hesitate to say it, because who knows what pox will befall my house as a result (I'm so superstitious now), but I think we might have finally gotten Nolie well.  She's pretty much been sick since Halloween:  the impetigo, the cold, the never-ending stomach flu.  She finally went back to school today.  And not a day too soon:  she was working in her workbook last night and couldn't remember her letters and numbers.  She could tell you about every episode of Johnny Test ever made, though, I guarantee it.  We have watched a lot of t.v. these last few weeks.

Anyway, maybe dealing with 30 days of five-year-old whininess and sleeplessness was getting the best of me.  Or maybe it was the relentlessness of this semester, which seems to have gone on about two weeks too long.  Maybe it's some mid-thirties blah thing, where everything has sort of fallen into place around you, and you blink and look up, and wonder what now.  There's also the hormones, this going back on the pill thing, which has mostly been really great (skin and weight problems beginning to resolve themselves; sleeping better; have more energy; not spending half my life in pms- or period-land) but has also involved some hormone-induced blue periods.  I think I can tell when I'm in a biological stupor vs. one incurred by external circumstances at this point, but that's probably a weird or artificial distinction to make, I don't know.

So I was just feeling a little blah, maybe, like in the routine of things and realizing that you've sort of set a track for yourself by this age, and you're in it, and there's a lot of inertia built in, so change is possible but less likely, and jeez maybe even you're a little bit trapped, or at least bored.

Maybe things weren't even as existential as all that.  Perhaps I had just been shut up in the house with my cranky kindergartner for too long, or maybe the trees lost all their leaves but the snow hadn't begun to fall yet and it was just that in-between time where nothing appears to be moving.

Then yesterday I had this crazy, obvious epiphany as I was walking in the house with Nolie, who tried to go to school but just wasn't quite well enough yet, and I normally would be a little peeved because I really wanted the day to sit home and drink tea and coffee in the quiet and work on a paper that is due very soon and now it would be checking email at best while the Johnny Test marathon and whinefest happened all around me.  I realized that I was setting myself up for another day of being annoyed, and that I didn't want to be annoyed.

In my head I had a quick string of thoughts about how I must change my thinking on all this because, frankly, it was getting old, feeling grumpy and stuck, and I had a vague sense of myself as not being very fun to be around and also feeling bored with my own blase-ness.  There was the whole who do you think you are strain of thinking and what is your problem and get over it.

And, in a flash, here is the thought that came into my head:  "You are so blessed.  You have everything you need."

No, still not right.  Boring.  Obvious.  Self-help treacle.

Then, this:  "You are so blessed.  You have everything you want."

Holy cow.  That's a big deal.  I mean, yes, having everything you need is a blessing.  Don't think I don't know that.  Don't think I don't see how much people are struggling here and around the world just to meet needs.  Don't think I don't know that I'm quite spoiled and selfish and materialistic most of the time.

It's just that there's really something to put it together that not only are my needs being met, but I am living exactly the life I have always wanted, and yet am choosing to look at the little things that fall out of place rather than the tremendous big picture that is always holding together.  What an odd way of living life!   What a waste!

I mean, how much time to I spend feeling anxious about papers needing to be graded or articles that are due or staying in touch with friends and family?  About the dirt on the floor?  About my muffin top, missing a meeting, needing a haircut, getting tenure?  About sixteen-hundred times more time than I spend thinking about what a sweet life this is, that's how much.

What a dumb-ass.

I dropped my bags right there in the hallway and laughed.  Then, weirdly enough, this weight that I didn't even know was around my shoulders also lifted.  Nothing else about the day outwardly changed:  I had exactly the day I pretty much expected in my grumbling imagination.  Except that it felt great.  I had this total awareness that all of the choices I had made in my life up until now, all of the thoughts and dreams and imagining I have had, have led me to exactly this moment.  Instead of feeling trapped, I felt good.

I think it's this:  the unnamed need to look for what is next or what is missing vanished.

Maybe that chafes.  Maybe we're not supposed to stop looking, yearning, longing, visualizing, visioning.  And I'm sure there will be times in the future when I'll do those things and will need to do them.

But realizing that I don't have to look anymore because I have everything I want right now takes away so much anxiety for me.  It means I don't have to shop.  I don't have to feel anxious when we run low on food.  I don't have to look at ads for jobs.  I don't have to be making anything.  I'm not missing anything.  I can do more of what I want and feel good about it, and what I want becomes much clearer.  All those millions of choices, some dumb and some not, they just led me to this moment of reality, and that reality is perfect.

Forgive my totally obvious ramblings.  It's so simple you must wonder if I am ever going to get it.  And no doubt this is a lesson I'll have to keep learning.  I'll forget again.  But this was my earth-shattering realization from yesterday, accomplished while walking in the door.

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