Photo: I’ve been exploring vegetarian cuisine in both my own cooking and also at local restaurants. This is split pea soup with toasted sourdough croutons. I’m trying to figure out what I can absorb into my family’s regular diet. I’m also curious to know what all the fuss is about. I have very thoughtful, lovely friends who have stepped away from meat for a myriad of reasons. I used to dismiss it out of hand, but now I’m trying to consider the merits. I don’t think I’ll ever truly stop eating meat, but I’d like to thoughtfully consume less of it. Verdict: I loved it. The Husband liked it. The boys were less than impressed. Direct quote from Minor: “Um, Mommy? Could you, please, never make me this ever again?” You’d think I’d served that child roaches. Lordy.
I am starting a sock knitting class next Saturday at my local yarn store. I had to pop in to purchase my yarn and needles for it, which was a fine excuse to squish yarn for a little while in the middle of a busy week. There, I ran into a woman I see sometimes and I was delighted to catch up. I’m horrible with names, but I do remember stories. I recalled that this woman’s daughter had just started college. I asked if she’d gone back to campus, empty house and what not.
“No? No…” The woman sighed. “Never moved out. Kids don’t move out anymore.”
“Oh? Oh… well… I’m sorry. I thought she was taking classes. I guess I remembered wrong.”
“No, you heard it right…” She explained that there was a glitch in the program, a few changes, classes need to be rearranged, etc.
Then she said something interesting that has been with me since: “I don’t know about you, maybe you’re part of it, but… we raised a generation of wimps. Stuff gets hard and they immediately… they just can’t handle it. No resilience, you know?”
I frowned, not really knowing what to say. I’m a funky in-between age between her and her daughter. I want to say that I am not a wimp. I want to say I’m not raising wimps. Instead, I said nothing at all. I bought my yarn, changing the subject to something lighter, then happily sang that I’d see her next week at class.
The next morning, two little boys struggled to put on their boots, coats and gloves in preparation to head down for the bus. The struggle to keep their attention long enough for them to put on all of their stuff and get down to the bus in time is a daily exercise in patience. Finally, they started shrugging on their coats and zipping them up before putting on gloves and heading out the door. Both boys couldn’t zip.
They grunted and groaned, growling as they tried, over and over, to pull the zipper up. Minor gave up immediately. “Can you just do it?” He whined. Major kept unzipping completely, getting the zipper back on the track, getting to the same spot of stuckness, then unzippering again.
Time kept ticking past. It’s like I could feel the bus as it inched along its route toward our driveway. My time-oriented soul screamed and shouted, “we’re going to be late! Just do it for them. DO IT FOR THEM, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”
And my Quite Thoughts are about that screaming dialogue in my head and the supreme, head to toe, physical temptation to stop their struggles and simply do the task for them. It took everything, all of me, to not touch them. “You are just gonna be cold!” I exclaimed as I got my own coat on. Minor got his zipper half way up, shrugged, and started putting on his backpack. “Fine,” I said. “Give up. Your being cold will be the lesson. Only you can decide if you want to be cold or not.”
Magically, two coats seemed to get zipped. All by themselves. And we were all satisfied.
I walked down the driveway feeling smug. The boys had achieved what I wanted them to achieve. Resilience, it would seem, can be taught. It’s a discipline like anything else, I told myself. A little bit of practice, a little bit of encouragement, and they’ll get it. No wimps here.
But that smugness melted away quickly when I started reflecting on the things I’d given up on recently. The Husband and I had had a fight about how to pay for the boiler the night before. When he haughtily started in on the math talk, interest rates, budgets, sacrifice, I stopped asking questions and told him I didn’t want to fight anymore. “Do whatever you want. I’m not going to fight with you,” I huffed. He sat back, pleased, given carte blanche to fix the problem his way. I know I’m going to regret that later. In writing, I’d gotten some important, but frustrating, critical feedback on two pieces of my work. I’ve got to significantly edit a short story I wrote so I can submit to a journal and apply for a fellowship. I told my story coach, who I haven’t worked with in months, who checked in with me but hasn’t asked me for any work on Silverwood, that I was submitting without any hope of publishing or getting in. “It’s practice, or whatever…” I said dispassionately.
But most importantly, I got so angry and frustrated with designing a website for my freelancing company that I actually had it obliterated from the internet. I wrote my hosting service and asked them to erase it. It’s too big. Too distracting. Too out of my comforting zone. Too demanding. I don’t know how much to charge. I don’t know how to vet and protect against bad leads. I don’t know about business. I’m not this person.
So it’s gone. Done. Eviscerated. It was so satisfying to get the confirmation from my hosting service.
But I haven’t grown. I did myself a disservice.
I made myself excuses: well, I’m resilient in plenty of other areas. You can’t have resilience in all areas of life. That’s just a ridiculous expectation. It’s wiser to know what I don’t know than to keep slamming my head against the wall and get no where. We live in a culture that glorifies grit, but rarely celebrates wisdom. I’m choosing wisdom. Gotta use my energy and talents in effective places.
But the truth crept up my neck after the boys got on the bus: Choices have consequences. I made a choice to quit.
The discipline cuts both ways. I have to be disciplined in my teaching and I have to be disciplined in my practice. Resilience is taught, it’s learned, and it’s also watched. Even if my boys don’t know the story of this pursuit in my life right now, they will likely hear the story when they get older. And what will I have to show for it?
If I’m resilient and disciplined, hopefully more than I do right now. It’s a big if. Lord, let me grow into a better self.
It’s a warm day with filtered sun. I’m writing this in a silent room in my church, watching the naked branches of ancient trees sway in the swirling, changing air. Torrential rain, inches and inches of it, is on the way to exacerbate the muddy mess that the snowmelt is leaving. We’re preparing for flooding basements and streets tonight, then a flash freeze come tomorrow afternoon. It’s going to touch 60 today and it will be 22 degrees tomorrow.
It’s Friday; only the second one of this fledgling year. I have so many wishes for you, Dear Reader. First, I wish you a warm and dry place to be this weekend. May it be cozy and full of quiet things for you to enjoy. May it be still while the world outside rumbles and roars. I wish you a candle to light, a silent companion to bear witness to your thoughts and, perhaps, your prayers. I wish you a little time to daydream in your quiet, dry place. Go some place deep or far, bright and fantastical. I wish you a bowl of fine soup. I really did love the split pea soup. I wish you a phone call from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, or a letter in the mail. Perhaps a thank you note from the holidays. Matter of fact, Dear Reader, I wish you a time to write a few notes of your own. It’s just as fun to put a letter in the mail as it is to get one for yourself, I think. I wish you the pleasant surprise of birdsong as you go about your days. I wish you the deep satisfaction of laughter from a well told story. I wish you the warmth of a hug that lingers and squeezes, the breath of a dear one on your neck, the softness of their lips on your cheek. Indeed, I wish you the intimacy of a small moment of shared quiet, Dear Reader: the warmth of a held hand, the depth of lovingly locked eyes, or something else… some gift shared between people who know each other more than the world could comprehend.
I wish you the growing and wonderful knowledge of just how much you are loved and admired. The effervescent feeling of knowing you’re being watched and listened to. That your words matter, that your actions have meaning. That you, and your presence, make a difference for the people in your life. You are so very, very beautiful, Dear Reader. Carry that with you this weekend and be sure to pass it on.
Until Monday, my Dear Reader, take care.