15 October, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s really hard sometimes to practice remaining present in a culture that simultaneously prizes efficiency, getting ahead, and self-reliance while also pushing the message of, “You’re only young once — live it up while you can!” There’s tension there, and I can’t quite put my finger on how to best unlearn some of the meanings I’ve swallowed over the past few years surrounding adulthood and responsibility and fulfillment and significance and, yes, peace.
I know this: I no longer want to carry the pressure of a lie that says success equals busyness equals success. I want to embrace rest without guilt, the gift of time spent together in simple connection without the baggage of unspoken expectations dragging our thoughts down into sputtering distraction, and more steps towards creating rather than consuming.
I want to plant my feet firmly on the red concrete of our front porch, wave to Senora Cruz across the street, and fully take in the hope of the early day: the sirens two blocks over, the creak of the rusting gate as Mr. Robert backs his old pickup truck out of their side yard on the way to work, the scratching of dry leaves on the eaves, the light hitting the space just so between the bird’s claws gripping the wire overhead.
I want to remember that one-of-a-kind smell that curls up in the milky curve of my son’s neck right underneath his tiny ear — and I’m realizing there will be nothing to pull out and savor if I don’t first allow myself to plop down on our lint-covered wooden floor next to him and breathe in his scent. Breathe in this life. Breathe.
I want to feel connected to myself as well as to the world, not to mention to the God who is somehow within yet transcending the world, and I’m realizing: I don’t know how to do that very well. You would think I would have gotten more of the hang of this whole bestillandknow trick by now — but no. There is a continual litany of to dos running in place behind my eyes, spinning wheels that hum a soundless tune of, “Detergent, diaper, service site, email, immigration reform, electricity bill, sweet potato puree, urban education, meeting, diaper, sink, email, incarceration, clothing stack, meeting, mirror, food security, diaper, diaper, curriculum, email, therapy, one on one, leadership development, diape…” and so it goes until it’s 230 in the morning and I realize that the tune is still humming quietly to itself in the dusty, unpainted corners of our dim room, and all I crave is silence. And a sense of enough. And maybe the comforting warmth of a wordless embrace that recognizes the fullness of all of me, not just the work of my hands.
I was listening to a podcast recently and something said by the guest author being hosted on the show rang a resonant note within me. “Just as much as we have come to believe in and nourish the life of the mind, and, at times, even the life of the soul,” she said in quiet conviction, “I think it’s time that we remember to also nourish the life of the body. And by that, I mean this: we need to reteach ourselves how to inhabit our own bodies.”
This, then, can become my prayer for today. God, teach me how to reinhabit my own body.
It’s ironic, I know, that I so often sit with the young adults participating in the urban service program my husband and I co-facilitate here in our city, holding forth at great length — and with honest conviction — about Sabbath. And rest. And being. And yet, here I am, navigating distractions and deadlines and dirty diapers with a slightly bewildered stance that isn’t quite sure how I ended up in this space or, perhaps even more importantly, how to enter another, more sacred yet equally ordinary, one.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want life to just happen to me. I don’t want to perpetuate some of the same cycles of resentment, tally-keeping, and burn out I see playing out before and around me. I want to participate, and co-create, and rest, and be. Maybe this is part of what it really means to be an adult: skip the to-do lists. Reject the paralysis of unspoken expectation. Slip out from underneath the deadening pressure of “shoulds” and “ought to’s.” And yet, the question of, “but how?” still remains. Maybe that’s really what it means to be an adult?
I guess what I’m trying to say is: the only one who can live into those hopes, the only one who can transform “I want” into “I am,” the only one who needs to begin choosing rather than conforming, the only one who can somehow rest in the balance of both being and doing, is me. In this moment. Now.