Writing, for me, is both a part of how I make my living and how I make sense of my living. My summer reading has coincidentally connected around a theme that, in the end, a life is just a collection of stories. What does it mean to write the story of my own life, a scene and a day at a time?
I often tease my kids that you don’t see many characters in books or tv shows soaking up screen time. It makes for pretty boring plots. At the same time, I would not want to read about or watch a chronicle of an eight-hour work day, let alone a minute by minute account of a career. Every good storyteller has to sift through the words that get included, as well as the ones that don’t.
In writing the story of my life, however, I live through a lot of moments that won’t make the cut in the highlights or the bloopers. Our world is currently obsessed with capturing the moments and sharing them, but there is so much (and maybe more) value in the things that happen between photographs and bonfires. When we tell the story looking back, we will identify the parts that mattered most, interpret the meaning, and make sense of what happened. I long for that kind of clarity in the living of it.
The summer has offered three messy movements that I don’t have meaning for yet.
First, I started off the long weekend by finishing making a long-awaited Gryffindor quidditch sweater for one of my kids. And when I got home, I discovered that I had injured myself knitting with many hours of repetitive movement in the combined ten hours of drive time. (My fourteen-year-old thinks this is the funniest extreme sporting wound ever acquired.)
I am shocked, as always with relatively minor injuries, just how much I take for granted when my body is working the way it should. And, the most important part of the story is the several times a day of physio stretches I need to do to ensure I can continue to enjoy knitting and playing the guitar and doing yard work.
The rest required by my hand surfaced a second movement of healing for me. I recognized how frequently I fill my life up to avoid feeling what surfaces when I am quiet and still. I long to be understood and affirmed, to have people happy with me, to know what to do in all situations. When I am misunderstood, confused, and have disappointed people, I struggle. I don’t even let myself feel it most of the time, let alone take a photo of it to tell the story. After five years of intense grief and healing work, there is a movement towards more ordinary growth. Seeing a coach and practicing new habits will help in ways I cannot yet know.
Finally, my oldest child has been away at school for the year. It is so good to have her home, playing with her siblings, making us watch ridiculous TV, and updating our vocabulary. We have arrived at the years I longed for: sleeping in and going on adventures without diaper bags, hilarious conversations and eye rolling. And for the first time as a parent, I feel nostalgic and a little sad. The kids are growing up, fast, just like everyone says.
Making the most of it includes epic road trips and one million reminders to pick up your socks and unload the dishwasher, again. I wish I could know which conversations will scar them for life and which ones they will remember when I am gone. I long to be able to be the mom they need and I know I can only do my best. It’s a miracle that the story of my life gets to include so many mundane movements, messy mistakes and do-overs, evenings at the park and walks around the block that are completely unremarkable. I write the story of my life by showing up for today, making a few more steps towards being and becoming the person I was created to be. The plot moves forward when I love the best I can and try again tomorrow, to find a way from this moment into the next one with grace.