My life seems very small sometimes. Occupying the triangle between the sink, the fire, the cooker, with frequent diversions to the nappy bucket, the woodstore, the fridge. There and back there and back. The tending of bottoms, the encouraging of children’s writing, the creator of family nutrition, the sweep of a broom, the swipe of a damp cloth. Small, repetitive dull. The hundred practiced moves I have perfected into a choreographed sequence that no one will ever applaud; the way I use my toe to lift the duvet back when I have a sleeping baby to lay into the bed, the barrier my knee creates in a second when I am taking yet another casserole from the oven and a baby appears unexpectedly, the swift gasp and grab of a child falling backwards off a chair, the way I hang dry cups on their hooks with one hand while I am filling the kettle with the other….just to save 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds could mean a breath, a pause, a moment to gaze unproductively into a distance I no longer inhabit.
A distance of spaciousness. A distant memory of time.
Time dropping slowly, like a slow tap dripping in an empty bathroom, with no hurries or concerns but the perfect plunk of its splash onto the clean white enamel.
Time sitting silently like the soft bloom of a perfect plum hanging on a branch with no pressure to perform or produce or create.
My life seems very small and tight. Coils of highly strung wire wound around the narrow space of my anxious and over zealous brain. Cramped spider words weaving in and out of my notebook of tasks to perform and ideas to torment myself with because I barely have time to think about them let alone nurse them into being.
Finish short story about the medieaval bee garden! Hang laundry (yes I really do write this down, just so I can tick it off) Write article for Green Parent! Knit the socks for Finch! For God’s sake finish the second draft of the children’s book about… Teach Tansy to use the drop spindle, finish home ed felting project, learn poem to teach them on Monday, pay veg delivery, plan next weeks school work (by tomorrow evening) keep up with daily journal. Finish three unfinished canvases and look into creating website. Write weeks menu. Shop for it. Cook it . Try to eat it but abandon it to change nappy and put unhappy baby to bed . Lie for hours alternately nursing, singing soothing lullabies and yelping in frustration as ideas come and go and can’t record them as have only a blunt pale yellow pencil by bedside and no paper and besides its dark, and my breast is attached to someone’s mouth so movement limited.
I can let my life be small, narrow, constricted. Its me who’s doing it. Setting expectations up and seeing them dashed is just something I’ve done. Something I do.
Every day I walk through the ambitiously named Hope Wood, hopeful to be a big wood one day but currently a jagged collection of tiny oaks and rowans, Guelder Roses and beech…dotted along the driveway. Its a short walk, taken at a stately pace in silence, just me and Finch and the buggy, nap time, the same slow circuit past the beehives, the silver Birch, the giant Sweet chestnut where the voracious Italian Bees have swarmed, stealing all the honey from the local guys. I pick oak galls to boil with a rusty nail for a home ed project to make ink, I nibble on ripe Hawthorn berries, I see the weak autumn sun slanting through the translucent yellow leaves of the Beech trees, I let my head stop squirming with busy thoughts. The air is fresh, calming, the rooks are noisy and free in the car park. The squirrels are free and noisy in the Sweet Chestnut.
I let my own chains drop just for a few minutes. My heart has chance to expand, there’s a whisper in the breeze, a tendril of possibility, a glimpse into a place of expansion, a place of infinite depth and simplicity. Even the nettles know more than I do, and that’s the truth. More about what the world’s really about, what beat is thrumming beneath our feet, the call of the wild which my ears are clouded to by the clatter of daily demands and minutiae.
I go to the beach and feel energised and calm, like nothing is quite as complicated as it was when I was trying to pick up a sock between my toes while texting and telling everyone to just shut up for one Goddam moment please..and give me some peace.
My life can be very big. Not by doing more. Not by travelling to South America and studying with shamans in the Amazon…although I admit that would be amazing…not by being famous…not by doing anything actually.
Its big when I just am.
Just am in this very moment. Present to what is. And its often something amazing.
Outside, in the wild, on the moor, in the woods, by the sea, that’s the real soul feeding space. Its easy to be present to the moment there, the wind and rain and flying leaves and spray in my face. I need to remind myself of this daily. I get so caught up with what’s not important, so sidetracked by what I should be doing…I could die tomorrow, and then what? Will my soul be rich enough, loving enough, full of beauty…or just some withered piece of shrunken to do list?