I write a bit how I live — with some planning and dedication and a whole lot of flying by the seat of my pants. I work in the scraps and snatches of time I can find between the laundry and the school supply shopping, the running through the sprinkler and the trip to the library.
It feels especially true this summer with the elusive search for rhythm and days that pass through fingers and sometimes land in piles at feet. Yes, we’ve got a whole lot of piles around here lately.
If I try waiting until everything’s wrapped up before I write, I never will, and this is hard for me to accept, and it’s an act of faith to make space for words to come when I see so much undone.
I’m gratefully living on the edge of exciting things in this writing life (speaking of which, I should probably finish my magazine article that’s due Saturday), and yet it melds and mixes with the monotony and chaos of my daily. This contradiction feels confusing, and I’m sure I’m not the only mother, writer or dreamer who wonders where on earth she’ll possibly find the space when we need to leave for gymnastics in 30 minutes.
I want to plan and execute my days, take the bull by the horns or put the pedal to the metal, or I don’t know, do something that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day. Really nailed it. Beginning to end. Done!
And then I also want to hold my hands open when I see I don’t really know anything but the mess of imagination in the basement, the almost finished furniture project, the kids talking in my ear as I type, the half-swept floor. All these signs of a full life and imperfect beauty, which I’m coming to think might eventually be my most favorite kind.
For me, writing is a mix of this go forth and conquer and that live full and free, and words and images often live in some unfinished state in my brain, or on my phone. Those photos I take, those words I record on the voice recorder, those lines I tap with thumbs in the notes section of my iPhone — all so I will remember petal, skin, iridescent bubble and the thing she did that glimmered at what she’s made for.
Just the other night, our family dinner conversation had Michael and I swinging our heads side to side like tennis match spectators, and I was laughing in my napkin and trying to will my brain to store it all away. We covered every random topic under the sun, and the girls were all so uniquely, utterly them, and it was chaotic and hysterical. I didn’t grab my phone and record it with thumbs, I just LIVED it and then we were on to the next thing, and poof, it was gone.
I don’t remember a single detail.
But I lived it. And it’s the feeling that I lived something worth remembering that makes me want to both hold tight…and let go. It’s what makes me want to write and tell you about her: “the woman sitting at The Door of Hope.”
I keep coming across her in my notes. She’s the one I saw when I drove by the building ten minutes south of here, sitting on the stoop of a place called The Door of Hope. I don’t know what The Door of Hope does, and I don’t know what brought her there, or why she wasn’t inside. But I continue thinking about how she looked reading her book, more comfortable than I would have expected, back against a pillar, knees pulled loosely to her chest.
It was as if she knew she could enter any moment. Or maybe she’d already gone this way many times.
Tonight, maybe you sit on the stoop or down the road a piece from The Door of Hope.
Maybe you feel you’ve got to finish that thing — the sink of dishes, the budget, the project. Maybe you’ve got to clean yourself up, gather up your skills, get it together before you walk inside.
Maybe you’ve been burned by hope before. Maybe you don’t even know what you’re hoping for.
Maybe hope feels like an indulgence, the dessert after the responsible stuff, a resting place at the end of this drudgery, someday.
Maybe you’re thinking you can craft the something better that’s on the other side before you walk through, if you just work hard, plan hard, do the hard thing.
I’m wondering today if I’ve maybe had it wrong all these years, and hope is more a door, a portal, a right now come as you are, than it will ever be a destination.
Maybe hope is holding tight, maybe it’s letting go. I think it’s probably a bit of both.
I do know we can sit on the stoop as long as we need because the door is always right there.
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[Image above courtesy of studiojru]