Wisdom Comes in Small Packages Sometimes

I had a slight freak-out moment a little while ago, as I went to adjust my schedule AGAIN to accommodate an unexpected inability to write (due today to my kids’ unexpected snow day.)

I am getting things done…but between the flu (multiple, incessant flus, bouncing from person to person around here since mid-November) and now the weather, the truth is, I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be as far as having a body of completed work and a list of polished, marketable skills. I made up this schedule for myself in October – and I’ve barely made a dent in it.

It’s frustrating.

*

A strange thing has happened in the last few years, as I’ve developed my skills and interests: I’ve gotten ambitions. Really ambitious.

I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer, because I went so many years (including all the way through college and grad school) not feeling like I’d really found my path. I drifted. I had so much energy, so much creativity, so many dreams – but no clear idea as to how to channel it all.

Well, I do now. I know what I want. I’ve uncovered the path – and I want to follow it. I want to see where it takes me. I want to push its limits.

And not with little baby steps. I want to GO. I want things to happen. I want to make things happen.

And I know I can. That’s the frustrating thing. I can almost taste it. What I want to be doing, how I want to be living, what I want to make of myself….it’s all just around the bend.

*

I wrote previously about a dream I had (a year or so ago.) Part of that dream involved being on a hillside, looking out over a city. I knew in the dream that the city was a place I needed to get to  – and it was right there. I wasn’t able to touch it yet; it was far off yet. But I could look at it. I knew it. It was in view.

This was a big deal to me. That dream was a big deal – because it really made me think about where I was, in time and space. I realized that I’d never been able to discern my path before. That it was still distant didn’t matter; I could see it.

That was heady.

Well, I’m closer now. I’ve made progress since that dream. I feel that as much as I now it in my head.

And the closer I draw to that metaphorical city, the more I feel the pull of it.

And the more I feel the pull, the more delays in my progress rankle.

(Patience has never been my strong suit.)

*

So I had a moment earlier this morning when I actually caught myself thinking that I’d never be able to get things together. It was literally a “little voice” in my head. It was my voice – but it was voicing things I usually don’t let myself think about. I don’t know how it managed to poke out of its confines this morning. (I think frustration makes you weaker about stuff like that.) But it did poke out – and it was saying really hurtful things. Like: I’d never accomplish what I want. I’d never be able to make things happen for myself. I wouldn’t amount to anything.

And I felt terrible.

You can really beat yourself up if you let yourself go to those places.

*

While I was trying (with little success) to tamp down that voice, my two little bottomless pits began pestering me to get started on lunch. I finally went into the kitchen and my son followed me – and he gave me a hug. Which isn’t a noteworthy thing (he’s an affectionate little guy). But this hug was very, very sweet – and he even rubbed my back! He said I just looked like I needed it.

I hadn’t realized he’d been watching me before – but I was glad he had been, because I did need it! It helped.

*

Sometimes my kids surprise me with how perceptive they can be. Not always (they are five and eight, after all. Sometimes they’re oblivious to anything but their toys and the television.) But they startle me with it sometimes. Like my son just now.

And something else I’ve noticed: they can be very wise. Truly. If I put a problem to them, they are often times pretty helpful with a solution. They’re little, but they have good, creative, elastic brains.

Youth and inexperience don’t necessarily equate to a lack of wisdom. That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since having kids. They might be short on practical knowledge – but when it comes to “living life” stuff, they can hold their own.

So, on a whim, I decided to ask them their opinion about how I was feeling. Why not? They’d either have some useful advice….or they’d be silly and cute and at least make me smile. Win-win.

I told them essentially that I have a lot of things I want to accomplish…that I have a lot of stuff, career-wise, that I want to do…and it’s just not happening fast enough. And I feel sometimes like I’ll never be able to get to where I want to get to, that I’ll never be able to accomplish what I want to accomplish. And that I feel really bad about that. I want to make things happen!

They sat there for a minute, thinking. And then my son (the eight-year-old) said that when he puts his model train together (the track, etc), if he does it too quickly, pieces crack off. And if he get too hasty and starts pushing it around with his hands instead of using the controls, he can damage it. So he’s learned that he has to just take his time.

He seriously said that. I was a little stunned. It was exactly cutting to the heart of things.

Then his sister (the five-year-old) jumped in immediately and said she knew what he meant. She has a doll, she reminded me, that she likes to dress. If she puts the doll’s arms into the dress too quickly, they’ll crack off (she’s come close to doing that more than once). But if she goes slowly, she can dress the doll and she looks really nice. So (she summed up – in case I didn’t grasp what they were saying), what I needed to do was take my time with my stuff. I shouldn’t force things. The things I want will get done when they get done, and if I take my time, they’ll come out nice. But if I rush and force and stress out, they either won’t get done, or they’ll come out messed up.

I had nothing to say to that except THANK YOU! Because they’re right. They’re completely right. I’m not working on tasks when I write and practice photography. I mean, I am sort of….but the tasks are in service to something greater. It’s not about checking off a list. It’s about building a life. I want to (and should) work really hard – but I can’t push. That’s a surefire way to end up with something faulty and flimsy.

I don’t want that.

These delays…who knows? Maybe finding a way to work with/around them is part of what I need to be learning. Maybe there’s a purpose to that that it’ll be clear later.

Life does seem to work like that a lot, I’ve noticed.

My two sages.
The sages.

*

We had hugs all around. And then I went back in the kitchen and made them waffles for lunch with extra syrup.

Dinosaur Train was on PBS Kids and they’re happily watching that right now as they eat their waffles.

It’s turned out to be a pretty nice – and very, very worthwhile – day!

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