Resolved: To Wait for the Right Resolutions

This is a stop-in because today is Monday, and it’s turning out that Monday is blog day.  Also?  It’s 2016, we’re not on holiday anymore, and I feel the itch to return to routines, writerly and otherwise.

Which leads me to my next thought:  I’m not sure how to approach resolutions this year.  I do have things I’d like to accomplish in the next twelve months, disciplines I want to incorporate into the warp and woof of my life, but the idea of official resolution setting has fallen flat for me this go-around.

On the other hand, time is short and none of us is promised tomorrow, so I don’t want to waste it.  These days, I’m trying to think through how to set myself up for success in the things that matter, how to best use the time I have, while not being locked into a pass/fail mentality.

It’s January 4th, and I don’t really have a plan, yet.  But I’m mulling it over.  Something will turn up, eventually.  And if it doesn’t, well…

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On Catching Fish With Your Bare Hands

As a writer who educates three middle-schoolers at home, I have little time to stare at a blank screen in the mornings.  If the words don’t come when I need them to, if I can’t get things down in the early quiet, I feel the Pop Rocks of Panic start to fizz somewhere under my left lung.

Because, for me, the words I write are proof of life, as melodramatic as that surely sounds.  I don’t make actual things for a living, like some people do (if you don’t count that one season when I made three human beings in 32 months).  In fact, most of the work I do in a day’s time seems to evaporate into the ether with no real proof that I did it.

Except for the words.  This morning they won’t come, and my breathing’s a little shallow.

Writing is a lot like homeschooling, which, in turn, is a lot like trying to catch fish with your bare hands.  You keep grabbing moments, waiting, calming your breath, lunging again (don’t be so clumsy this time), repeating the whole thing–while trying to forget about how ridiculous you must look.

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When I don’t catch any fish right away (write any words worth keeping, or successfully explain, say, certain biological concepts), I have to trust that it’s the trying, the not-quitting, that equals success, at least in the short run.  Even if it seems like nothing is happening at the moment.

So, yes, the cursor is blinking, and the kids have knocked on my bedroom door, signalling that it’s onward and upward.

But it’s OK.  I’ll bide my time.

I’ve noticed that fish often come when you’re looking the other way.

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Today my mother-in-law, the kids, and I went out to get the kids haircuts.  My boys, especially, have come away with haircuts a la Dumb and Dumber one too many times when Husband has taken them.  Besides he was helping his mom with yard work.  So it worked out perfectly that I be the one to supervise their new do’s.

Since it only took around 15 minutes to finish our errand, we thought we’d stop by Zaxby’s on the way home for a little treat.  We slid into a booth and enjoyed the funky memorabilia lining the restaurant walls.  We talked about everything and nothing and got free drink refills.  Before we left, my mother-in-law suggested that we order something for Husband since he didn’t get to join us.

I ordered a grilled chicken salad to go and proceeded to wait for our number to pop up.  We waited…and waited.  Then I watched as a shy Latino approached the counter and I listened to his order.  It went something like this:

Hostess:  What would you like today?

Latino:  Heh?

Hostess:  What would you like to order today, sir?

Latino (muttering):  Cheeken platter.

Hostess:  I’m sorry?

Latino:  Cheeken.

Hostess:  Grilled or fried?

Latino:  Heh?

Hostess:  Grilled or fried?  Your chicken.

Latino:  Greeled.

And he stepped back to wait for his number to come up.  He wore a vague smile and his eyes possessed the vacant look of a man who doesn’t fully speak the local language.  The same look I wore for three years in India.

Finally my number popped up.  But before I could claim my grilled chicken salad, the Latino grabbed the salad, muttered ‘thank-you’ and left.  I moved in slo-mo.  That was my salad

So I re-ordered, and it took another forever before we could leave with our food.  But I couldn’t be angry.  Because, the truth is, I know exactly how the Latino felt as he ordered his food.  I know how his mind was preparing an answer in English so that he forgot to pay attention to the next question.  I know how he was listening for key words and paying attention to the body-language cues of the hostess.  I know why, when he saw that some type of food order was ready, he jumped, sure it was his.  Because he was nervous and trying not to look stupid.

I would not have understood him or sighed sympathetically at his plight three years ago.  I would have been annoyed and antsy.  But three years later, thank the Lord, I got it.