The light on the inside

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Family news: On Friday, Fooey’s five-hour friend party came off without a hitch, and on Sunday, AppleApple left for a week at summer camp. She refused to take along a comb, saying she didn’t expect much showering to happen at camp, but agreed to bathe and brush through her (matted) hair immediately before departure. Hm. Still looks matted.

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Book news: I’ve finished this round of revisions on Girl Runner. I printed a version yesterday and then tried to edit it while simultaneously playing board games with CJ. This worked better than expected, though only because CJ is very very creative with the rules (so I didn’t have to follow them precisely).

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I’m not lacking for blog topics, but the topics that keep cropping up seem a bit grim. Ya’ll don’t want to hear about me being levelled in Sunday’s soccer game by a ball kicked with force at close range directly into my face, dropping me like a rag doll to the field, am I right? Teammates nearby were convinced I was knocked out, and I honestly don’t know. I lay there hearing voices, curiously removed, and trying to figure out how to open my eyes. I’ve never been hit like that before. It was like running into a wall at top speed.

It’s been that kind of a summer, spotted with the odd misfortune. Yet, I hasten to add, there’s been so much goodness to these months, all mingled in.

When I read old blog posts, say, from the era of toddler CJ and preschooler Fooey, I’m struck by how funny the scenes were, as I described them. Chaos was transformed into hilarity. I’m afraid the current iteration of my blog lacks for humour. It’s followed me where I’ve gone, and I’m so much less with the kids, so much more with my own pursuits. Maybe I take myself too seriously. On Sunday morning’s longish run, I began to think about this somberness I’m carrying around with me. I can feel it dragging on behind me, and I’m not sure what to attach it to. I think it has something to do with not starting midwifery school this fall, with instead sticking to the familiar script of mother, cheerleader, organizer, writer, with readings to prep for and grant deadlines to contend with and rejections to face down. Yes, I’ll be teaching a course this fall (and it’s already filled and I’ve received my first messages from prospective students addressing me as “Professor Snyder”), but, really, life looks much the same as always.

Whatever its cause, there is a sense of weight with me right now, and I find myself entertaining fantasies of moving, selling our house, going on sabbatical, travelling, buying a horse farm — you know, transporting myself somewhere else. Being someone else?

As I ran, on Sunday, I thought about how the things we imagine to be permanent in our lives are so often temporary, while the things that we imagine to be temporary may in fact be more permanent than we’d like to admit. I wondered: is this heaviness my new permanent? I keep expecting it to pass, yet despite moments of levity and relaxation, it continues to hang around.

A friend and mentor, to whom I confided my struggle this spring to choose between midwifery and writing, said this: Understand that attention is a fickle thing, and will be visited on you in ways that are only partially connected with being deserved. If it’s coming your way, honour it with stepping into the warmth. But always also realize that your ultimate responsibility is to the light on the inside of you, not the light being directed toward you. Listen to those inside voices, they’ll get more jagged if you’re going in the wrong direction.”

I keep returning to her wisdom. Your ultimate responsibility is to the light on the inside of you. 

I feel calm, I feel stable, I feel hard-working and organized and capable. But I don’t feel light. I miss that. I hope it’s temporary.
Projects and tangents
Sent and spent

6 Comments

  1. Very wise words from your friend and mentor. Being a good mother to four children as well as being a best-selling novelist is not an easy feat and something to be commended as well as embraced. Perhaps, not being so hard on yourself will ease your heaviness. I believe everything in its own time and if midwifery is meant to be a part of your life, it will happen. Perhaps at this stage of your life, writing and being a mom is what you are meant to do. Your children are lucky to have you and you will all benefit in the long run. P.S. Remember how proud your children are of all you have done and accomplished.

    Reply
    • I’m weighing your suggestion: “not to be so hard on yourself,” and finding it hard to imagine doing. I may write a post about that … Thanks for your kindness.

      Reply
  2. That is some beautifully worded, wise advice! I hope the lightness comes back, and I hope that having finished this round of editing helps with that.

    I can certainly relate to the desire to pick up and go somewhere for a while. But that brings its own heaviness too.

    On a different topic: ow! Did you make it to Spittlebells the next morning, or were there still cartoon birdies flying around your head?

    Reply
    • There were birdies, Nath! No spittlebells. I hope to be well enough to make it to boot camp on Friday, but I need to be careful.

      I’m sure you and Tricia leaving on sabbatical has me thinking about sabbaticals — but I also get that it’s not an easy thing to do. I wonder how you and your families will be changed by the experience.

      It’s a relief to be done, and it’s been a summer of intense and sometimes crazy-making labour. I hope there’s a period of respite, now! Even just a few days!

      Reply
  3. Yikes! I hope you feel better soon and the birdies go away.

    I’ve been feeling a little melancholic this week, and part of that is definitely the uncertainty of what will happen when we get back.

    I hope you get a nice period of respite and good weather to go with it! And no birdies!

    Reply
  4. I love this distinction between the light on the inside versus the light being directed towards you. It feels useful and true…thanks for sharing! (And congrats on finishing the revisions…amazing!)

    Reply

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