Just a hot second ago, I walked out of the living room to look for my cup of water. That cup that I filled a few hours ago and stuck a yellow straw in. I used my phone light to check around the sleeping kids’ rooms. Checked Layla’s forehead to make sure her cough hasn’t turned into a fever, touched Zade’s cheek because how could I not, and then made my way back through the living room again. I threw my right hand in the air, a gesture you’d see from an angry pedestrian who just got cut off. Where is that cup, I asked myself. I walked to the end of the house. Could I have put it in the guest room before dumping clean laundry in it? I clicked on the light. Nope. Maybe it’s in my bedroom near the phone charger. Nope, not there. Oh, maybe it’s near the oversized chair. Nope. Finally, I walked to the bathroom and clicked on the light, and there it was–on the counter where I put it before bathing Zade.
I must have walked past that room 3 times before looking into it. The answer was practically right in front of me, and I kept missing it. In the meantime, I asked myself if I had even poured the water in the first place; maybe that was yesterday and I’m confusing the memory; and why did I just remember to drink water when I’ve been thirsty?
These questions and this moment are hardly worth writing about except that they are; in fact, they are entirely representative of the last few weeks. The water quest was simple: I went searching for something that I knew I needed. The answer was pretty close to my face. I doubted myself in the process, and then when I found the thing I needed, I took a cool sip.
Yesterday, Andrea and I went to a long-awaited City and Colour concert. We had brief spurts of quiet time to chat since we only had one full day together, but our talk gave me the place to exhale about some shadows cast on the last few months. Over hot tea and with some road time, some of my words came out clearly, slicing fog with each syllable, while other words sought the safety of friendship because they were of a different kind–that kind where we speak ideas out loud so that we can uncage them and see how we feel about them, giving me a chance to examine each with the perspective of my own third party.
In fact, I’m trying to help a friend and also myself by listening to this on audible. There is an exercise that advocates instead of pushing away the multiplicitous thoughts that may affect you negatively, you identify them, or dare I say, classify them. My interpretation has been that when the cluttering thoughts stream unannounced through your mind, you may say the following back to yourself: “I notice you’re thinking about the way you think she may be judging you again, ” or, ” I notice you’re replaying what you said at the meeting again.” It’s strange at first, but then it can be just the right shift in thought.
I’ve been doing some of this type of listening and filtering, and it’s been so interesting to see how things take shape. For example, I’m nearing the conclusion that my mind-thieves love to create a person’s expectations of me and then let me judge myself against them, which is neither fair to him nor to myself. It’s going to take work to bring that bad habit to a minimum. Like so many motivated people around me who wonder, where does all this effort go, I want to make it count, making my way–whoever else that satisfies–authentic.
Of course you can’t be happy all the time, but you can aim for that beautiful, ephemeral high and land among the peaceful. I feel deeply the last words of Girls tonight: “Kids are super-easy. It’s being an adult that’s hard.”
I can see the answer right in front of me: satisfaction comes from peace of mind, and there are only so many things in our busy lives that are worth our precious time. The stuff resembling water, and the stuff that complements our shared experience. I am working through how I can be better about putting this to practice in my world of ever-stretchy expectations.