It’s amazing what a night out with a good friend can do for the soul. Thank you, friend.
Not today. Not going to happen. I really wish I could as there are many stories to tell. But today… today is not the day to tell them. Today is a day to go up to the mountains to rest and to begin again tomorrow fresh and full of words and wonder. There are no words left today. There is only a little wonder. There is only reflection.
The toughest part of a goodbye isn’t the separation or the gaping echo resounding in the uninhabited place a person once commanded. It isn’t a memory triggered or a familiar song played. It is the unknown. It is navigating this new unchartered ocean into which your once sturdy vessel has been unwittingly blown off course. We all know, or at least we have to keep telling ourselves, that we have said goodbye before and have succeeded, have survived and eventually have thrived. So we breathe, after the tumultuous rising and falling waves have subsided, lost their edge, and now coelesced to an almost still reverberation of the Earth’s gravitational dance with it’s central star. We breathe and we look out, not to the endless sea surrounding us, void of its once familiar landmarks and guiding stars, but instead we look forward toward that star. The one and only guide whose point is always fixed and unchanging. We may even chance to stand at the very bow of the boat and step out, duly knowing that we will fall straight down but will not be lost in the waters endless depths. We will not be submerged long. We will rise as we have always done. And, if we release our control a little more, we may even rise above, stepping out onto the glassy surface of a new morning’s ocean. We may begin walking a new journey, never fathomed.
So goodbye. Thank you for this chance, this opportunity to step out and allow the unknown to become not my anxiety but my annexation. Goodbye.
Sorry, teachers, but I have always been uncomfortable with clip charts, card charts, all sorts of color coded levels of behavior. So this year when I found out my son’s, Liam’s, kindergarten class was run on a clip chart, I rolled my eyes but tried to open my mind up to it. I said, “Way to go!” on his green days and high fived with an “awesome, dude!” on the purple days. After awhile, Liam was a consistent green and purple kid. Most parents probably would be happy with this. Most parents, but I knew with all that is goes on and has been going on with Liam, there was a yellow day lurking in the shadows. Honestly after three-quarters of a school year approached, I wanted him to slip so that he would know that sometimes we aren’t perfect or sometimes it’s okay to learn from a bad day.
Today was that day.
It wasn’t a major offense. Liam was talking during work time. Okay, so he was chatty. So his mother and I had a choice…to carry out a consequence at home or to allow him to exact his own consequence, the one in his own mind. We easily chose the later. As soon as I picked him up, “Daddy, I got on yellow today…but it wasn’t…I was chatty.” I could already see the gear and machinations in his head turning and processing this new state of being. In the car we talked about what happened and what we might do differently next time. “Dad, it’s okay, because we learn from consequences…like, I’m no going to pick from the prize box on Friday, and that is my consequence…so tomorrow I won’t talk…or the next day…” I know my son has inherited my knack for speaking with unintended ellipses, so I don’t interrupt. “So, I’m just going to do that…I’ll do better tomorrow.”
Now, maybe this is an amazing feat of maturity from boy in the second-half of his sixth year, or maybe it is just because he knows his dad is a big proponent of growth mindset and he would rather not hear or deal with my “let’s-spin-this-as-an-opportunity” rant, but I could really care less. Fake it ’til you make it, kid. Somehow, somewhere down the line you’ll actually mean that if you don’t mean it now.
So in the end, I’m proud of him. I’m proud that he took his yellow day in stride. He knew it was wrong, but he also knew it wasn’t the end either. So in my book, that’s a purple day,…shoot, that is a rad rainbow day in my book. All of the colors. Way to go, son.
Just the moment in front of you. That’s it. That’s all you can work with. You don’t even own that moment, it just hangs there like the next rung on the monkey bars of life. So you swing forward propelled by the involuntary force of time and grab hold. There is a swirl of a world whipping around you. A breeze of what we call busy or busi-ness. But right now, it is only that next rung, that next moment, that next decision that you must handle. You string together a few moments and then another few moments until you forget that you are only presented with what is right in front of you. You start to look around and see that there are too many monkey bars to grab, to many possible paths. If you stretch out both arms to grab two rungs, you fall. But there isn’t, there is just one, the one right in front. So you look forward and you make it. You make that moment yours. Once you grab it, that last one, the one behind you, is gone and here you are one hand firmly clenched onto the bar and the other open wide ready to find its next destination.
Just one moment at a time.
I could have cleaned more tonight. I could have ironed my shirts, straightened the towels, wiped down the nooks and crannies, organized the mounting pile of papers. I could have. But that’s not what I did. It may seem foolish, immature or even impulsive, but tonight, instead of all those could-haves, should-haves and would-haves, I read. I read and read and read until I finished my book. I should have known it would happen. I was there, right there at the tippy-top of the rising action, just moments away from the climax that would bring to me the most hidden of messages contained in its catacombs. So I gave in. I opened to that bookmarked page, reread the last paragraph, then dove in, nose first.
I could have done so much tonight. So many adult things to do. But I didn’t. I will do them tomorrow. Tonight I did exactly what my soul needed.
For fellow bibliophiles, you must all understand my pain when I inform you for a very long time now I have been without a bookcase. I will spare you the details, but needless to say, it has been a time of unrest. My reading life was missing something. I’m not often a very organized person, but my books…my books I take very seriously. I have often used book organization as a therapeutic task. Think Rob Gordon ala Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (Jon Cusack’s character for those who haven’t read it). Anyway books to me are like records to Rob. I compose different lists in my head. I choose a book based not on what I like but on what I need at that time…and that is never an easy task. There is no algorithm to finding the right book. But a bookcase that is organized the right way, sure does help. Putting together that book shelf was preparation for a ritual still steeped in my former wanderlust days of moving places each year. Finally, as I placed the last sorted stack of paperbacks onto the shelf, I felt a little more whole, a puzzle piece fitting firmly into the empty space that was once there.