9.18.2006

Sacred Accidents

I close my eyes and type as fast as I can to invite flow and to purge. In opening my eyes, I see a land of green squiggles and red underlines, the decorative commentary of Microsoft Word. My eyes instantly leap to these adornments, granting the mistakes greater significance than when my fingers correctly connected with the keys.

And I imagine that my fingers have intervened and are speaking directly to me, spewing the words that want to be heard, voicing my true desires. The drunk dialing equivalent for the literary set.

A word waves from the page, one of my fingers’ inversions: sacred. I had intended to type scared. And I pause to consider if scared can be sacred.

In the 90s nearly every book I picked up had a title about leaving or falling, of something that would get me out of where I was, a fantasy of departure or relocation. Dreams of Leaving, Falling Out of Time, names like these. I remember nothing of the books beyond their titles. The content was inconsequential.

Staying put has always been my challenge. A gnawing sensation below the skin tells me, ‘Not here, not now.’ And in this state, it’s hard to focus, hard not to wonder, ‘Why can’t I find the life and place that call to me?

If you walk in the inner circle and smile at your peers, if your home feels like the place that has always called to you, you can’t imagine what it’s like to never feel home. Despite living in this dwelling longer than any other in my life, despite my saying with a smirk, “I’ll be here forever,” I feel like a temporary resident, as if someday the right spot on the planet will present itself to me and I’ll sigh and smile, and say, “Yes, now I understand. I wasn’t crazy all those years of disquiet. I wasn’t home yet.

My son told me that the reason he was so grumpy on a recent trip was because he hates to travel, that he struggles with change and adjustment. He illustrated his point by confessing to initially hating the new furniture in his room – the furniture he’d selected – because of its newness. He missed the old furniture he’d grown to despise, missed its familiarity. And in moving one piece of the old furniture back into his room to ease the transition, he knew he was taking care of himself.

Looking at his need for stability and my need for movement, I figure we must have something to teach each other.

I strive to be a good role model, yet lately in my unstructured days with no new additions to my resume and no obvious forward momentum in career, I fear I’m setting a bad example. I worry my son might not fully understand my actions of abandoning a solid career for the unknown. But in the quiet when I feel calm, I imagine I’m teaching him to take a chance, to believe in change, to believe in moving outside your comfort zone.

And in return, he teaches me. His mere existence shows me that I might need the grounding influence of being a parent, that without the responsibility of my son I could be off spinning out of control.

Scared and sacred. The words echo in my mind.

As a family, we nudge each other into new territory. I push him to move a bit more and he forces me to settle in a bit better. And while we couldn’t have picked this, I sense it’s no accident that we are paired together.

8 comments:

V-Grrrl said...

Eloquently said. I think feeling at home in a place involves surrender. On some level, we have to open ourselves to what a home and community has to offer us on every level. In some ways it's like interpersonal relationships, we can't create intimacy without opening our hearts and minds, giving and receiving.

Expat life has taught me a lot about that. The hard thing about living in Europe is wondering whether I can ever go back to my first love: the U.S. Expat life is a bit like having an affair that you know won't last--sure when it's over, you can go back to your marriage but it won't be the same.

acumamakiki said...

I like to believe that's true of parenting and it's my hope that my girl will learn from me as I do from her.

rachel said...

A lovely comparison of the two words, yours and your sons' lives. I really enjoyed reading your words

jen said...

what lovely writing, and what lovely teaching. those words are intwined for a reason.

Ted O said...

I think most people recognize the patterns of their life, and the direction it has taken, only long after the fact -- if at all. You, on the other hand, have that excessively rare ability to see the pattern and drift of your life in real time. It’s a gift -- no matter how unsettling it may feel in the moment! All of us who follow your blog are the beneficiaries of your vision, and just perhaps -- hopefully -- it raises our own awareness of the world right in front of us as well…

fringes said...

Ah, an essay writer! I'm glad to be here. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your humor in comments.

Rrramone said...

Freudian goodness. :-)

Ptelea said...

I'm very pleased to have found your writing. Your experiences speak to me. I immediately felt at home where I live now (for 16 years) I felt that my house had an oriental flavor that intrigued me even though it is a brick ranch in the suburbs! Now that my sons are leaving the nest, I can see off in the distance a new window - even though I am not quite ready to leave. I love your expression of your perspective!