Well, we’re into it now. The snow is off the garden and my to-do list is off the bottom of the page. This is the part of the year that’s like a train coming. Hop on or hop out of the way.
But this year I’m just as grateful as can be. I love the big pile of dirt and the acres of brush still to be cut. I love the chickens who get out and have to be put back in and also ruin my swales. And most of all I love the wheelbarrow. I love the work.
I’m just clean worn out from the other kind of work, the kind that requires analysis and response to criticism and unending self scrutiny. I think if I have to look in another mirror I’ll burst into tears.
For the record, I do think that self scrutiny is an important element of a human life. I don’t think we get along forever without checking ourselves against where we think we’re going. But it’s like the cinnamon part of the cinnamon and sugar. It can’t even be half, and it certainly can’t be most. The most of a life you need to be able to stretch your legs.
My mother was an amazingly productive person. She wasn’t free of problems, but most of her problems had to do with overdoing things, not under-doing them. And the thing she always said, while she was outrunning everyone in sight, was this: “A change is as good as a rest.”
I live by that maxim. “A change is as good as a rest.” I live by the back and forth, and the give and take. I live by the idea that there is productive (healthy?) activity for the quiet times and also the loud times, the social times and the alone times. You can be healthy (and helpful) in all sorts of moods.
But my mother struggled with getting herself grounded, and so do I. I know that one of these changes I have to make is also the swing from traveling to rootedness, and the swing from gathering new things to repeating old ones. I need the change that brings the circle around and takes you home.
This week I’m swinging back home. I’m spreading chips and planting seeds and clearing weeds of all kinds. Yesterday we did a true, dedicated homeschool day for the first time in two weeks. There was grumbling. But it was like building scaffolding back into days that have gone all loose and wild with the challenge of new experiences. My kids are tired. And so am I. And the only thing that will solve it is some organized hard work.
A few weeks ago, when Nick was gone for a couple of days, I stayed up late into the night and asked God what I should be doing with my life. Not just with my life, but with my new platform: what the fancy people call “reach.” I asked God, “What am I supposed to do now that I have 20,000 subscribers on YouTube and I don’t remember what I did to attract them and I’m not sure what they want?”
The joke is, never ask God what you’re supposed to be doing, because He’ll tell you. I filled up three notebook pages in about ten minutes, with all the very clear ideas of things that I should do. (Once I got on a plane to Nicaragua doing this exact thing.)
But here’s the interesting thing…none of these things in my notebook are identity things. None of them are be smarter, or be more beautiful or even be more interesting. They’re all the kind of things you actually do, with your hands or with your mind, or both. Now…that is a relief, because it’s the alternative to looking in mirrors, or otherwise having too much cinnamon in your cinnamon and sugar. But it also just sounds like a lot of work.
Basically, the thing I should do now that I have 20,000 subscribers on YouTube is all the stuff I should have been doing anyway. Like…making stuff, learning how to make stuff, taking care of stuff that other people made, being generous with the stuff I make, and being in receptive, grateful relationship with the people (and other living things) who cross my path.
Hate it that the formula is that simple. But it is.
It’s a funny feeling, to swing home, when the world is so wide. It feels a little like being grown up instead of growing, or small instead of big. But it’s also a relief.
A lot of my writer friends are setting out this week, at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Some are showing book proposals, or meeting with agents. Some are hoping for big, big stuff and some are networking. I feel a little out of sync, as all I want this weekend is a little peace and quiet…and maybe a carrot cake with crystallized ginger for my birthday.
I wish you all a change when you can’t live without a rest. And I wish you the change that brings you around into a rhythm that feels like home…even if the world is very wide, and it feels like all your friends are going the other way.
Also, I wish you your favorite birthday cake, when that time comes. 🙂
Love from the yurt,
PS. I’m going to be on a Christian agrarian radio show tonight if you want to hear me. It’s called Christian Farm and Homestead, and it’s hosted by an organic dairy farmer named Scott M. Terry. His tag line is “voice of the Covenantal Resistance.” I don’t really know what that is, but I love it. Also I don’t know exactly what we’re going to talk about, but hey, life is more interesting that way. The show is live at 8pm Eastern/6pm Mountain or you can listen to it after. The link is here.
And…I do know that blog comments here have been messed up. Some have been lost, and I’m so sorry about that. And I know not all the links are working either. That’s because I am doing a new site soon. It’s coming, I promise. If your comment doesn’t go through, please feel free to email me using the contact link above or comment on one of my Facebook pages. I always love to hear from you!