It is 11:38 PM and I am still picking up the house, moving laundry, examining the calendar for tomorrow. I’m desperate to slip into my pajamas and sit down. Can’t remember the last time I’ve gone to bed before 11:30. Madeleine L’Engle called this season, the “tired thirties” and boy was she right. Unfortunately, I’m on the cusp of 40, and the next decade is looking just as dubious. L’Engle writes,
I was always tired. So was Hugh. During the decade between thirty and forty, most couples are raising small children, and we were no exception. Hugh was struggling to support his growing family… And there was I, absolutely stuck in bucology, with the washing machine freezing at least once a week, the kitchen never above 55 degrees when the wind blew from the northwest, not able to write until after my little ones were in bed, by which time I was so tired that I often quite literally fell asleep with my head on the typewriter.
So there she sat, one of the most creative writers of our time, a woman whose words and soul have been like manna to me on certain days, asleep at her desk. And I am siting here, hunched over my keyboard, finding this whole effort of trying to string words, ridiculous. My eyes keep closing. Something that happens now when I sit down. I told my husband recently that I’ve adapted the old commercial quip from, “I’ve fallen! And I can’t get up!” to “I’ve sat down. And I can’t get up!”
And yet, as much as I want to pull on my cotton jersey pants, I yearn to create something, write something, piece a pattern of words that might mean something to someone besides myself. And it’s frustrating, day after day, to never have the time for it. The brain for it. Or the energy.
I’m fading fast. So I leave the computer and head upstairs to my twin girls’ bedroom. I turn the door quietly and return a lost doll to her cradle. As I pull Ali’s covers over her, I notice the moonlight, liquid blue, rolling in waves across her hands. I flick the blind slats and peer through the window to find the source, big and beaming, sailing over the mountain, illuminating the clouds below.
The moon has a pull, a gravitational one that guides the tides, but also a pull on my heart. Whatever the stage – waxing gibbous, waning crescent, new, or full – she grounds me. I think it’s her transformative nature – always changing, but always predictable. Able to work through a number of shifting faces, but always beautiful. I want to be like her.
I step outside for a better view. The spiders have already spun their threads, and as I cross the porch I have to brush their silk from my arms. I walk out into the street until the moon is fully revealed. An orb of pure white, no longer filtered through sycamore leaves. She has touched a fleet of clouds to the west. Lit them from the edges in. And they are so radiant I can see their thickness, gauge how quickly they are moving cross the sky.
It feels so good to stop. To stand in one place. Unmoved. Alone. Looking up.
Summer has been all-consuming. I’ve done too little stopping. With my five loves at home, banging the glass door as they run in and out, our daily lopes to the pool for lessons, the reunions, the late nights, the constant need for food, the crafts, the chores, the math drills, the friends, the reading. There have been so few pauses.
And maybe that’s why it took such little stillness to fill me.
I heard the crickets singing. A warm breeze brushed my cheek and rustled through the bushes. The whole sensory experience of standing in the quiet, feeling like mine was the only face the moon could see, gave me a sense of peace that swelled my insides; soothed me, right to the center of my rattled, heavy chest.
It was one deep breath in the moonlight. A few seconds of silence at the end of a day that never stopped whirring. A moment of feeling known. And I thought to myself, Madeleine is pretty good company to keep. This is the life I made for myself. The season. In all its glorious consumption. Of course I am tired.
But I am mighty, mighty blessed.
QUESTION: What season are you in? Do you identify with wanting to create something? Does stillness often elude you and where/how do you find it?
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