Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Things like rocket science, investment banking, brain surgery - these are tough. Widely acknowledged to be challenging pursuits: those requiring a whole mess of education.

Raising a family - nurturing a crowd of respectful, inquisitive and creative future citizens of the Earth. Eating dinner together. Fostering connection with those next to you, those around you, those in your daily round. This is the easy stuff, right?

Today was a typical Tuesday afternoon here at the Yellow House: shouts of THE BUS!!! sprints to meet The Big Sister, rapid fire debriefing/homework/snack and then dashing back out the door to track down playmates. I managed the politics of three year olds in the sandbox, and whilst slapping at post-Irene late September mosquitoes, my mind wandered dangerously close to the Big Ideas that loiter in the shadows of half-thought and distraction.

I blinked twice and it was already 6.10 - far too late to be starting dinner but the very soonest it could've happened. Crouching in front of the fridge I waited to be inspired, then gave up & started heating tomato sauce, water to boil pasta, sliced zucchini to steam.

Then it was 7, and the lights were quieted through the house. My three kids sat, and somehow all the glow of the late evening centered itself around our long table. Tonight the candles - so often forgotten and left unlit - cast a spell that meant silliness spilled onto the plates more than salt. Our youngest held the floor as she told us all about her first day of preschool; Lars told us about his first official math test of 1st grade, and Ms ThreeDaysAwayFromNINE explained Brief Constructed Responses to mystified parentals.

I took a break from the milk pouring, the cheese grating, the Use-Your-Napkin reminders. I listened with all my heart - to the giggles, the elementary school jokes, the older two remembering their first days at preschool - and the truth shouted at me all around the table.

It isn't easy. In so many ways it's 1000% more difficult than rocket science or brain surgery because there are no rules, no degrees one can get that teach you how to build a family. That teach you how important the Tuesday night penne & marinara meal will be in the piece-by-piece construction of a life.

It's a beautiful quote from that Annie Dillard on writing: no one ever said it would be easy.

No one ever did.

Not the writing, not the parenting, not the building of a life.

No one ever said it would be easy. But the hard makes every living moment of our dinner time tonight worth it.


Time for Just Write again tonight my friends. I was humbled beyond measure by all the kind comments on the post last week, after such a very long time away from the keyboard. This may be a less lyrical attempt, but inspired by Heather and the incredible Annie Dillard, tonight I had to Just Write all over again. Until next time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Harvest Moons and writing

My eldest and I gasped simultaneously.

Did you see that Mommy??

I did, sweetheart.  It's pretty amazing, isn't it?

A huge harvest moon had just begun its ascent, and hung right above the horizon.  Luminous in the dusky blue of a September evening.

I almost pulled the swagger wagon over to the side of the road, just to look.  In and out of the trees it seemed to bob and weave - or maybe it was me bobbing and weaving.  And then, for a long stretch on I95 I had an uninterrupted view.

I watched that moon from the corner of my eye as I drove.

harvest moon

Its glow seemed so self contained.  The huge circle hung in the sky, not gold not yellow not orange.  Just....the color of warm light itself.  The moon seemed to have no compulsion to cast shadows, to spotlight anyone or anything.  It seemed content to glow within itself, guarding a secret knowledge of the autumn to come, the long winter beyond it and a spring that will surely come. 

I want to live like that harvest moon, I found myself thinking.  I want the inner glow, the self possession that doesn't include bright flashy sunbeams cast on those around me, but rather inspires them to glow themselves. 

But.  But. I know that that spark within me, the origin of the glow is the writing.  And honestly, that light has been dim for such a long time.   Every time I sit down to write anything, I start, then sigh, and stare at a blank screen.  I hit delete-delete-delete-delete and keep that moon from rising on the horizon with its radiance and indescribable color.

Just write.  Its a message I have muttered to myself so often in the past six months.  Just write.  And yet the darkness feels unshakeable - a total eclipse, if you will.  It doesn't mean the moon has gone away - it simply means it is obliterated temporarily by the brilliance of others in its orbit - by the roles of mother wife daughter teacher.

So here it is.  I'm just writing.  Inspired, as with so many other years, by the reflections of autumn, by the wisdom gleaned in gathering days, by those around me who urge me  to Just Write.


Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary - a blogger who makes me laugh like few others, and then choke up with tears with her very next post - yesterday put a challenge out there.  Can you do it? she asked.  Can you let go of your inner critic, of your daily routine just for a moment, and Just Write?

I am so grateful to have someone ask that simple question, the night I talked with the harvest moon.
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