I used to carry on my shoulders a bag of anxious desperation. While there is a seemingly permanent stress knot at the base of my neck and left shoulder, I'm learning how to manage the pain and the feelings of anxiousness that arise with each new and unexpected set of expectations. It's not often I speak about the particular challenges related to managing the multitude of tasks that one accepts when they adopt a more independent lifestyle. The value and the wealth that arises from choosing home education and handmade industry have enriched my life more than any other regularly paid job. But it involves much more activity than I was prepared to handle at the start. Thankfully, though the blessing of adaptation and an open mind, I'm now enjoying a more vigorous engagement with life and my community.
How did I get here? To this place where it just feels so right to be doing exactly what I am doing, stress knot and all? In the beginning of this blog I wrote extensively about my uncertainty of a career path, and figured that one day I would be back in the workforce wearing a professional wardrobe, doing lots of important stuff. Making a monthly salary. Impacting the community and adding value.
Thank you God, for the grace you have given us. For the gift of this time.
I have a gratitude that runs deep for this sacred gift of passing time. For this is a time when I took big leaps of faith and kept on living while also carrying fear. Despite the insecure risings of uncertainty, I will always remember with fondness the daily blessings of family togetherness and the opportunity to experience life on a deeper, less pressurized, level. We now have time to engage in the things that we find fascinating and satisfying.
It seems odd to me that as a child, my favorite subject was reading, but I did not read many of the classics that I'm now enjoying with Elliot. What grace to have a second chance! We have dived into the pastoral and the fantastical worlds of E.B. White, Mary Pope Osborne (Elliot's favorite series), Johnny Gruelle, Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, William Kotzwinkle, Felix Salten, and Michael Morpugo. While I read most of these aloud, Elliot is currently reading aloud to us the second book in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. We've tasted daily poetry and fallen asleep with magical characters left hanging on the page, awaiting our return.
Mixed in between my enjoyment of the classics I missed, I'm also discovering a development in my own literature tastes, which seem to be departing from fiction and more into paths of wisdom and philosophy. I'm reading Rilke's Letters at the moment, which are complex enough to satisfy the seeker's need to climb, revealing at the summit a landscape of bright and beautiful meaning. For those who would appreciate it, here's a passage from The Wisdom of Rilke, edited by Ulrich Baer:
"I have by now grown accustomed, to the degree that this is humanly possible, to grasp everything that we may encounter according to its particular intensity without worrying much about how long it will last. Ultimately, this may be the best and most direct way of expecting the utmost of everything---even its duration. If we allow an encounter with a given thing to be shaped by this expectation that it may last, every such experience will be spoiled and falsifed, and ultimately it will be prevented from unfolding its most proper and authentic potential and fertility. All the things that cannot be gained though our pleading can be given to us only as something unexpected, something extra: this is why I am yet again confirmed in my belief that often nothing seems to matter in life but the longest patience."
This longest patience is a willingness to let things just be the way they are. To let people be the way they are, including yourself. When you are unable to give yourself lots of money or the "right" career, you can simply give yourself an appreciation for the passing of time to enjoy all the extras that arrive as gifts. The gifts that are arriving seem to keep showing up without my effort to shape some sort of professional image or conventional package. I cannot tell you what I am anymore. I love to write, but am not really a writer by trade. I love to create, but am not what a critic would call an artist. I love to think and contemplate, but that habit sometimes lands me in trouble, especially when I think I've found a solution for some problem. Very often I don't understand fully what I'm meant to do here. Time keeps passing, falling through my fingers, and no matter how much I'd like to cling to these years, they are fading fast. Maybe this is why life feels so fresh and good.