I’m devouring books whole like a ravenous beast at the moment. Philosophical fiction (‘The Alchemist’ – Paulo Coehlo), memoir (‘Wild in the Hollow’ – Amber Haines), inspirational exhortations to celebration (‘Cold Tangerines’ – Shauna Niequist) and last week’s life changer, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brene Brown. I love that each collection of pages has now been subsumed into my being and has become part of the internal library of my mind.
I breathe two lives- both rich, colourful and fulfilling- and each inform the other as I travel through, gleaning insights and riding the wave of tears when a truth penetrates deeply. Time has slowed to a plodding pace, rather than a whirlwind race and I’m noticing more of the incredible world around me.
Last week we started up a marriage course ‘date night’ in conjunction with Belgrave Heights Christian School and it has been so worthwhile. On the opening night, the school Chaplain and his wife got up to share some insights and tips from their relationship of twenty years. They used visual cues richly and the sight of Nick in a frilly pink dressing gown with hobbit ears is one that is unlikely to dim for a long time. Yet in the midst of the peals of laughter and moments of vulnerability, I felt a familiar ache spreading.
Open House has been so great and rewarding, but there are distinct disadvantages of starting a community with 90% of the group in the same stage of life. These days, I’m lucky to be involved in any conversation on Sunday that doesn’t end quickly in “sorry, just gotta find my kids” or “excuse me again, sorry… no, you can’t take your pants off here!” When exhausted eyes are mirrored back everywhere, and schedules are ruled by tired toddlers, it can feel a little like we are all thrashing our way through the same fog. The thought of families that have conquered this haze and are striding around with children old enough to scoop food onto their own plates and walk around without sustaining another head injury, does send thoughts of longing through me. Not that these magical families would even have to ‘do’ anything, necessarily, other than just show me that the next stage exists and is tangible…
We went on an adventure today to Heronswood, a beautiful heritage house and garden shop on the coast. Eli and Hudson delighted in playing hide and seek amongst the vine-covered tunnels and enthusiastically pointed out different vegetables (“Look, Mum, a purple cucumber!” “YELLOW raspberries!”) and we somehow managed to keep Hudson from toppling down the cobble-stoned stairs. Inspiration hit in the midst of hyperactive children popping up like rabbits amongst the seedling displays, and we somehow managed to squash a large lemon tree, Tahitian lime and Valencia orange and a couple of heirloom tomato seedlings into the MPV. Passionate voices implored us to visit the beach, despite the threat of grey clouds swooping in, breathing a chilly wind over the aquamarine water. We sat on a wooden bench, overlooking the vast ocean, surrounded by hordes of squawking birds and savouring the crispy, salty chips and chicken together. Dave mused that at the very least, living by the ocean would give you incredible perspective as to your place in the world and the magnitude of some of the problems we obsess over.
Perspective. It’s the word I tag all these posts with and the gold I glean from the pages. It’s the tug of hope I feel when I catch a glimpse of parents further along the journey and a pivotal part of why I write in the first place. It’s the spur of the moment visits that turn into deep conversations as little hands dig covertly in the dirt. It’s noticing the tiny violets and the discarded, rusted reel mowers and the heady sting of salt when you take a ragged breath of air. It’s pleading for the eyes to see and meeting new friends in unlikely places… and perhaps most of all, it’s the sobering thought of what my parallel life might have been, had I not set off on this journey towards vulnerability and settled deeper instead into the anger and bitterness of thwarted ideals.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.” – Brene Brown