Saturday, September 3, 2011

This IS the something

It's easy to get sucked into the rhythm of our ridiculously high-tech, over-scheduled culture. In summer, so many of our friends are taking multiple vacations, or their children are attending various camps, or they're juggling a busy schedule of work and sitter and grandparent pick-ups. Plus, the weather is nice and warm; no one is stuck at home, staring at a snowstorm. There are festivals galore, crafts and food and ethnicity and music all being featured here or there. The pool beckons, as do museums, and the zoo, and hiking trails, and the library...

There's a bit of pressure to make the most of the couple of months you have: where should we go today? What's in season? What's on the agenda? Have we been to this place yet? Or should we go to that place? Which is closer? More expensive? Do you friends like this one? I heard this one is fun.

By mid-summer, our steam is beginning to run thin. By August? It's pretty much gone, without even a whistle. It's canning season, there's harvesting to be done, and we're running low on both personal fuel and family budgets. August, I suppose, is the month when you come to appreciate the back yard most of all. It's the month when you truly embrace, out of both weariness and comfort, the beckoning sway of the glider. The very glider where you once read stories to your child is where he now reads them to you. The same glider where you witnessed the first hummingbird of the season will be your seat when you soon bid farewell to those hummers. The glider where you've watched the chipmunks run madly to cover, where you saw the hawk swoop down for a defenseless animal. The very glider where you've welcomed countless mornings and evenings, with their rosy pink skies and array of either chirping birds or prowling bats.

That same patio, that glider, that backyard garden, all of them will provide company when you welcome autumn, and a new classroom teacher for your child. All those yard factors will be present, sitting still, while life moves forward without ceasing. They will comfort you with their sameness even as you mourn the loss of other places, people, traditions.

I'm realizing anew that I don't need to keep telling myself we should be "doing something." Sometimes it's good enough to just sit, and talk, and think. That familiar patio and yard are the setting for my son's most imaginative games, for our best and deepest discussions about what he wants to be and do someday. Yes, we reminisce about Kennywood and the beach. But we also share thoughts, and dreams, and secrets. The baring of hearts happens on that familiar (dare I say boring?) concrete and turf. Those are the places where we permit vulnerability, where we face some frightening and honest truths. Those worn seats and paths bring out what is hidden and real and true.

We don't need to always be "doing something." This is the something, this sharing of selves. It can't happen when we're constantly busy. It must be coaxed by languid minds, into the light of well-known, well-loved territories.

It's not too late. Stop doing something. Start letting out the real.

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