Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Metaphorical Essay:


They took down one of our big beautiful trees.   I say "took" rather than cut, because it was quite the process of chopping, falling, cutting, chipping, raking, dragging, rolling, sawing...there was something so fulfilling and exciting about watching this process.  The kids sensed it too.  They could hardly focus on their Cheerios that morning.  Seth was literally shrieking with delight as he watched them stuff whole branches into the machine and come shooting out as practically dust.

The leaves of the remaining three willow oaks are yellowing and beginning to fall to the ground.  There is a tangible shift in the air.  A shift in seasons.  While one day we shed our sweaters by mid-afternoon with a high of 75, the very next we pull on an extra layer with a chilly temp of 52 degrees.

Until a few friends and family members started questioning my voluntary sabbatical, I hadn't really visited the "why" of this break.  So the morning the tree guy knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted to keep our tree chips for mulch, I began thinking.  I stood in the living room sitting on the edge of the castle table watching the demoliton of over 1/2 a century of growth.

Growth.

I've been delving into the archives here at My Angle.  I perused and it became apparent that this record has been very anticipation-driven.  From its beginning, this family has been fed from the nourishing and comforting pool of "major life changes".

It hadn't let up since the day I said "Yes".  From there, Dr. Gooch and I stared unawares into each other's eyes as we embarked upon medical school where together, with some of the most stellar people we've encountered, we made a proverbial notch in our symbolic belts with each year completed.   There were countless decisions to be decided and choices to champion in the cause of profession-seeking.

In the throes of the school/training days was also, adding to the thrilling pile of anticipatory events, the inevitability of children.  The day they said "Push" began six years of conception, miraculous pain, expansion, subsequent deflation, sore nipples--oh, the sore nipples--and being witness to the jaw dropping transformation of wrinkled bundles of feathery flesh and real live baby's breath.  Our firstborn boy!  Then a year and a half or so later--a girl!

Everything was tinted with that titillating tinge of *temporary*.  Through the difficult years in the dessert--where residency ran its course--I only had to look up at the white fluffy cumulus of the future floating above our earthly turmoil and trial, and watch our happiness drift pregnant with promise.  And,  sometimes patient, mostly not, I muscled my way through *pregnant again* with the promise of another...girl!  And, then our fourth child born, the third girl to round out our sojourn in Arizona.

As the doctor toiled to secure a career, I labored to grow our family.  We were the King and Queen of Accomplishment spending the quiet hours courting our future.   Dates with the the atlas, holding hands with pages of possibility--this was our manna.  We were sustained by this relationship that we nurtured with that most mysterious of tenses: the future!  We were careful to include corsages of prayer and planning, until finally, leaning in, as we stood on that porch precipice, for the kiss of --a real job!

And though we seemed to have reached that infamous light--you know, the one at the end of the tunnel--it turned out to be a window.  Through it, still flitting flirtatiously on the horizon, we gawked at--an even better job and our first real home!

This ruse of anticipation saturated our first eight years with huge spurts of growth.  Now, for the irony that surely you've been anticipating (if you are even still reading).

I drank deeply from that pool of "major life changes" for those formative years.  Now settled with nothing looming and suddenly I find myself craving a nice refreshing dip. Just a few laps, to wake me up a bit?

I also find myself not pregnant.  Never have I had an eighteen month old tearing through the cupboards without standing, watching the young toddler while rubbing the rounding belly already halfway there again.  It must be natural to feel a slight loss of purpose.  It's not that there's nothing to anticipate.  With four growing children still hitting developmental milestones, two of them in school--our house is nothing short of a buzzing beehive of blossoming life.   We've really never been able to plan past the end of our nose and now not an evening goes by without a brief consult with a calendar showing barely a blank day three months ahead of us.

I caught my toe on Time and tripped a bit.  I realized Time is not in charge and I just need to watch my step and make my stride count that much more.  Every dream we had mapped out over the years had seen fulfillment.  You can see why one would resort to a withdraw from things in general.  Blogging in specific.  With the wealth I woke to each morning, there was something unsettlingly wrong with sitting to "put down the bones" of our days here and draw a blank.  I knew better.

I find myself shifting seasons.  As the tree people swept up the mess of chopping down fifty years of growth.  I watched them, with arms folded into the warmth of my quilted down vest-jacket.  From sprout to branch to solid trunk--what once shared the chore of shading the grass below, now rests in a pile by the fence--mulch, ready to be raked.  How cruel is Time.

My married life condensed into a blog post.  This same time demands I sweep up the mess of myself (the natural filth that gathers when we tend only to our own needs) and salvage what remains for a new season, no packaged future to shade our present.  Only sawdust and raw wood from which to fashion...

Whatever we want.  Whatever the Divine decrees.  Just two stumps madly in love and four little sprouts.

16 comments:

Kurt Knudsen said...

You're definitely NOT stumps! You are trees. And your roots are going down deep. Congratulations! Keep growing.

LJ said...

Jordan,
This was really one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read. I could so identify with always looking forward; we spent 7 years in Boston in graduate school before beginning our "real" life with a "real" job and a "real" house. Once we had that all figured out, we realized that it wasn't quite what we had hoped for, so we are recalibrating a bit. Thankfully, we've learned that you never really arrive anywhere in life, that you have to enjoy the journey, and that you must try to be in the present moment as much as possible. Thanks for reminding me of these lessons.
--Lindy

Gina said...

Jordan,
Very beautifully written.

Amy said...

Really enjoyed this post, very well written. Thankyou for sharing. Made me appreciate the present, and the people i have got in my life too.

Carol said...

Jordan...I feel your pain/growth.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that perhaps the growth you now seek is for YOU to go back to school...

S. Schuller said...

Beautifully written. When the last word came I wanted more. You have such a wonderful perspective on things and I appreciate how well you put it into words. Keep it coming. It's good to have you back.

Tasha said...

As always, you put it so well. I could picture your years in the desert, picture you, with no sore nipples, thinking hmmmm...Growth. It is the only thing I seem to spontaneously run toward and hide myself from...

shawna b. said...

Oh Jordan, I know. I have had such similar thoughts, especially lately. I read this and said, "Me too! I know how you feel!" After looking ahead for so many years, it sometimes feels strange to stop and think that this is what we waited for all that time. I guess the key is to live these days with as much excitement and anticipation that we lived those days, because there is still so much to look forward to.

Thank you for the reminder, and as always, thanks for saying it so well.

Anonymous said...

What would you study if you went back to school? You seem like an extraordinarily empathetic person--you should earn a masters in counselling.

Ann said...

I too, catch "my toe on Time and trip".

Thanks Jordan, very beautiful.

Michelle said...

I have similar thoughts. I think it's in our DNA to keep moving forward, progressing- always exploring for something more and every now and then finding a moment to reflect- you do that well. I love your playlist!

sara b said...

Speechless! (can you believe it? I ALWAYS have something to say)

Beautiful.
Insightful.
Will you remind me of your feelings now when I have my own a year from now?


And when are you writing a book?

Ingrid said...

Yes, when are you writing a book? You say it so well.

Rebecca said...

We need to talk.

Yours Truly said...

One of the happiest accidents of the last year for me was happening upon your blog , and not just because I now sport a new coif(a variation on a theme)but mostly because of this post. Your words are like water down my parched throat. They are all that is good about October.(the most poingnant month) Reflection, letting go, digging in, change, loss, some comfort and some hope. Anyway, I loved it. Furthermore, I needed it. I wish I still lived in NC. I would probably stalk you and make you invite me over for dinner.