Well, since I gave up my big plans to organize the revolution and save the world (it’s a long story, but let’s just say my friends and I settled on starting a facebook page instead), life has been rather quiet, the kind of days where you can’t think of anything much to report when someone asks you what’s the latest. The garden is in at long sweet last, so at least there is a bit of watering every day to be proud of. As a recovering type A uber mother, this is in so many ways a sweet victory for me–pulling back, returning to center, letting go.
So I was surprised to find myself feeling stifled. If I couldn’t organize the revolution and save the world, I wanted to write, I wanted to sew, I wanted something more. But I wasn’t doing any of it. I was just muddling through the days with a growing feeling that something was missing. Here’s the funny conundrum that is my life: I don’t want too much, and I don’t want too little. Maybe I was wrong and things can get too simple. Surely there is a way to get a good nights sleep and also have a stimulating and productive inner life. Right?
Well, maybe sometimes. Life follows its rhythms of fallow and fertile, whether we remember to embrace it or not. We go sometimes so far into one polarity, like simplicity or hyper productivity, that it spits us out into the polar opposite. And from there we have to slowly watch the next seed begin to grow, to accept the mystery that will be its flowering.
I’ve known that something new would slowly emerge for me to lift and carry as I walk through the ordinary days of my life. As Kim John Payne reminds us to tell our bored children, “Something to do is just around the corner.” I knew it was coming. I just also knew I didn’t have will forces to make it happen. Write something? But there was no muse. Sew something? But there was no time. Think of something else? Sigh.
My dad used to tell me, “If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.” I knew I had to wait, however impatiently, to trust that guidance and direction would come. And that’s what I resolved to do. I reminded myself that doing nothing is the best way to be receptive, to be that empty vessel from which all possibility is born.
Still, I was taken by surprise when something did start to happen. A thread of life came beating into my slightly discontented world, but it wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t a poem or handmade dress (which I had now latched on to as the gold standard of That Which I Must Do). It was a burst of renewed energy for my ordinary work of homemaking.
While looking outside myself to find myself, I had turned my gaze, even if almost imperceptibly, away from my home.
While expecting that I should be doing something Worthwhile, I forgot how worthwhile the work I do every day is. And not just worthwhile in the cosmic sense of childrearing as an act of grace, though it is all too easy to forget to put our faith in that simple truth, but worthwhile in the sense of it gives me meaning.
I won’t describe the very ordinary scene of my epiphany, which came while writing a menu plan. I’ll just say this:
Homemaking isn’t what we do while waiting for something better to come along. It isn’t biding our time, or settling for less. It is the source of our creativity, not the stealer of it. Meet it with purpose and passion, and behold the keys to the kingdom.
Now if you’ll excuse me while I go water the garden.