Exercising the Muscle… Part 2

I just opened up an old saved draft and found this post, below. Written when A. was only 5 months old. And I’m startled to find that the observations and the end of it could be written today. There’s something humbling in that, to recognize that I am consistently me. To see that with all my work and effort, the words that spill from my fingertips describe a steady state of being. One characterized by self-doubt, some ego, and a set of passions (writing, for example) that show up again and again. But also, that same sense of weariness of the repetitiveness of my worries and my own mind. But I have to say, reading it made me smile. This is the money quote:

The ping-ponging is one of my signature characteristics, and I’m happy/sad to see it return… The heavy cycling on a certain set of thoughts or beliefs—this is a hallmark of, well, me.

There’s something that tickles me about this. It’s like slapping my own self on the back and saying, “Hey old girl, there you are again. Gotcha!”  (The fact that I even can be tickled, rather than break down into tears, is due, for sure, to the fact that the daylight is back, and with it my stable emotional health.)

It’s also interesting to see how my focus has shifted. In the seventeen months between when I drafted this older post and today I’ve settled in certain ways. I was tormented for a very long time about the “where” part of my equation. And while I still have hopes of living overseas with Chris and A., and while we still talk of traveling, I feel more like Juneau is the home base. Though I’ve yet to really dip my toes into the community, outside parenting circles, I am in a constant churn about what I want to do and how I want to engage here in this place. So my mind is calling Juneau home. And is a difference.

The other thing that is not present in my writing below is my deep sense of concern about the future of our little blue planet, and the implications of that concern for the choices I want to make, personally and as a family. I think that part of the reason I actually feel at home in Juneau is that I feel this place—or at least coastal Alaska—is a relatively good place to be as things get more difficult. This is in contrast to other places that had my attention, like Oregon or Washington. Watching the summer of fires rip through the west really cooled me on the idea of living there. That and the 100+ temperatures.

One hope I have for this blog, should I be able to start practicing and succeeding on its pages a little more than I have, is to begin to explore some of the questions, ideas, readings, and themes that come to me on this subject of climate change and A.’s future. But again, this morning, I’m still just exercising the muscle. So again, I’ll just hit publish. So that this post doesn’t languish for 17 months.

In six days A___ will be 5 months old. I just had to go back and delete and re-write the second half of that sentence because I am so used to referring to him as “the baby” that it spilled automatically out of my fingers. And yes, he’s still a baby. But 5 months is something different and new. He’s full of attention and curiosity and laughter and the light bulbs go on daily for him. (Two days ago he learned to play peek-a-boo. Yesterday he figured out how to find and insert his pacifier in his mouth all by himself.) So while he’s clearly still “the baby” and will be for some time, he’s a different kind of baby than the little ones that are so dependent and so intimately attached to you at all times. When I put him in his jump-up he knows to jump—it’s no longer an accidental behavior. If I stick him in his car seat and pop the pacifier in his mouth he spits it out and gets mad because he knows that I’m actually about to ignore him for some period of time. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that he has an intellect and understands sequences of events, as well as cause-and-effect. It’s lovely.

At the same time that he is developing, I feel I am finally coming up out of water. Lots of things are different in my life. Gone, for example, is my sense that I can always maintain a baseline of cleanliness around my/our house. Also, I find that I need very little clothing. (I’ve been rotating the same 5 striped shirts since A___ was born.) But despite the changes and differences, I’m getting aspects of myself back—good and bad. I find that I’m beginning to fret some of the same old things that I’ve always fretted. What do I want to be when I grow up? Should I run for some sort of political office? Can I write a novel and actually finish it? Should I go back to school? Can I live a rooted life and also experience the adventures and travel that I’ve always craved? These questions are back in my head, ping-ponging around. The ping-ponging is one of my signature characteristics, and I’m happy/sad to see it return. Happy because it means I’m thinking about a different set of things than the immediate needs of my infant. Sad because they’re characteristics of myself that I find tiresome or tiring or that I wish sometimes would go away. The heavy cycling on a certain set of thoughts or beliefs—this is a hallmark of, well, me.