Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let's Go, Kid, into the Open Field

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea. 

--T.S. Eliot

It’s take your daughter to work day.  Didn’t know that?  Well, maybe that's because your daughter didn’t collapse on the floor and refuse to move when it was time to put on her jacket for school.

“I’m too tired.”

Well, shit, kid.  Dad has to go to work.

Only does he have to go to work?

C'mon, kid. Dad has to go to the coffee shop and maybe work on another blog post, a writing effort that that will garner him no income, that will not lead to a book deal, that will not help him sell the movie he’s writing.

You’re only four, kid.  Do you even really need to go to school?  There are experts and judgmental moms the world over who say I leave you there too long as it is. I’m sorry kid.  I’m doing my best.  

Why is it that I feel this need to write?  Why do I feel I need to do this thing I do almost everyday, where I dive into the stream of these words and every once in awhile send them sailing out into the world?

So now you are here, sitting next to me in this cafe, basically watching TV.  Are you rotting your brain?  Is it going to turn to goo and leak out your ears like I often tell you it will?  We won’t be here too long (I tell myself).  It won’t be long before you get hungry or tired or finally get bored of watching Kate and Mim-Mim romp in the purplelicious bubblegum kingdom of Mimaloo.

But for now I sit next to you, your dad. Your forty-year old dad with a back pillow to aid his aging spine.  This broken-down yogi.  This discouraged writer.  This dad who feels like he is failing you day in and day out with his lack of patience, with his insistence on following his own rigid agenda, with his tendency to write about himself in such self-pitying ways.

Wasn't it a victory, though, that we made it here, kid? This morning when you were lying there on the floor, I felt like I was faced with two options: pick you up, jam your arms into your coat, and carry you crying to your car seat, or go off by myself to sit and sulk. 

It wasn’t until it occurred to me that this feeling in my face, this feeling that my face and maybe my entire head and neck might explode atop my shoulders, was trying to tell me something.  And so I did what I’ve been trying to learn how to do.  I let myself really feel it.  I reminded myself that it, like every feeling, was pointing me towards something, a signal, and so I tried to welcome it as a teacher, and it told me that what mattered was not whether I got to spend my day at the cafe reading Karl Rahner, writing another blog post, or working on that short story I’ve been hiding from for the past several days.

What mattered was staying with what was happening at that moment, realizing that I had a sad kid who really didn’t want to go to school and a frustrated dad who wanted to go to work, and a newly crawling baby who was going to fully occupy her grandmother for the day.

"Where are the outlets?"
So what did I do, in between the Scylla and Charybdis of shutting myself in the office and forcing you to go to school? 

I said, "Let’s go to the store."

And you, kid, seeing with your untutored wisdom that this was a new way, the third way, a never-before-imagined possibility, said, “Ok.”

And we went to the store, and we started to have fun at the store, didn’t we?  The field of possibility was open once again.  We were out in that open field beyond the plans and fixed expectations of how the day was going to go.  And as we drove home from the store, a vision that we might come here, to the coffee shop together to do our as-yet-uncreated thing, bloomed in the now free space in my mind.

Maybe you are going to watch too much damn Kate and Mim-Mim today, and maybe later in the day, I’m going to come up against something where I can’t adjust, where I can’t let go, and we are going to have a big blow-up fight.  But for now, at least, we are here together, co-creating our day, trying to stay in the open field, trying to remember that our plans aren’t going to protect us from as much as we think, and that we need to remain ever responsive to the living flux of what is, whatever that may be.

Thanks for stopping by!