Sunday, April 12, 2009

Going With the Grain

I have never thought of myself as a morning person. The smug superiority of some that equate getting up early with being moral has always turned me off. Plus there is a deliciousness to lingering in bed to steal a few more minutes or hours of sleep in the morning when the world is demanding that you get up and become industrious. I have always more greatly appreciated the still hours of the night for moving along projects, ruminating on ideas, or stealing quiet time for myself.

When you have young children, you can no longer avoid the reality of the morning. It comes for you in the form of smiling babies and eager kindergartners who are thrilled to begin another day of learning and adventure after a "boring" night of sleeping. The biggest struggle I have with myself right now is to change my mind about the morning. When I pull myself out of bed to feed the baby and I sit on the couch with the sunlight streaming in refracted through the leaded glass piano window, I get it - the hope in a fresh new day and the stillness that is qualitatively different than the stillness of the night.

It is the same with the endless stream of dishes and laundry. It is the same with work. It is the same with the myriad tasks that are performed to run this great machine of a family. In the end, feeling peaceful or feeling miserable rests in the power of the mind to change itself or resign itself, to be open or closed. You can fight against everything that encroaches on your "real life" and break your life into compartments of things you enjoy and things that you endure. The alternative is to acknowledge that there is little qualitative difference between the folding of the laundry and the pursuit of an interest except in the meaning imbued in them. Everything done is as mundane as the filling of time given to each life and everything done is as profoundly sacred as a life's work.

What I hope to do is to is to struggle less with my life and to rid myself of the feeling of discomfort in my chest that comes from grasping and resisting instead of letting go and being open. When my sleep is shattered by a crying hungry baby it is mitigated by holding him in my arms and smelling that sweet baby smell, which is as transient a thing as there ever was. I don't want to miss this or the thousands of things that are unique to now and will change as I age, nor the thousands of things that remain a constant thread through my life and give its shape and its limits.

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