Doing the least important thing.
This is just going to be a lot of words and writing. If you want blinky emojis and colors tonight, this is not the post for you! Run away! HA!
I think we all reach a place where we are struggling to put all of the newness we are feeling into words - sometimes that isn't even possible. I believe in the magic of creative expression to channel those bizarre conglomerations of feelings that sometimes don't even seem fathomable on the same calendar day - we can express ourselves into release. Running frees me - all that sizzling, frantic energy that has to go somewhere. I smash the energy into the pavement and feel renewed. My right hip is inflamed and on fire, but I just keep going, probably foolishly. I don't think I've logged a 52 mile month since before I had kids. It's a good thing. I feel good about it.
The whole world right now is living, albeit more forcibly - in my typical way. I'm an extroverted introvert which means that I present myself as an extrovert - I'm arguably pretty "good with people," and enthusiastic and talkative around others, but my soul recharges alone and in quiet settings and situations. I crave the quiet center of things . . . it's harder to locate that than it sounds. Quiet is a feeling in your body and your soul, it's not about actual noise (although at a certain point of the day with 3 kids, it is about actual silence!) The quiet I crave is a thing of discipline that only I can touch and it's discipline in areas of life that I have at times neglected. I willfully surround myself with all sorts of business and and I feel frayed. At almost 42, I feel like I'm just on the brink of discovering how to actually-really habitually invite this into my life and home - but we're not there yet.
I have felt so much inadequacy in the last few weeks, and tried my best to make genuine peace with it along the way. There will never be enough Kristin-power to accomplish all the things in my world and life to the level that I would like to see them tied up with a proverbial bow. Obviously, I exist in a world of choices and electing moment-by-moment to either invest or let go of a task that is before me. The house has endless piles of dust and misplaced things, the kids are in a constant state of needing help (whether they say it or not) with school and feelings and their unspoken need for attention and love. My Husband has been physically unwell and needs someone to remind him to take probiotics, someone to actually care about and listen to him. We have a long marriage to business and chores and logistical partnership but not to our hearts or to each other. Our marriage could see a season of attention right now, how do I make it happen? We all need meals on the table. The dog is in the dog is out, the dog is barking. Zoom meeting, zoom meeting, Finn missed his first class zoom meeting. Ugh. I did a page poorly. I hurt a feeling, I invested in the wrong task, I didn't do the right task, I forgot something. I remember at 2 am. Looking awful from that video angle, I need a shower today. I'm not upset we can't find eggs, I'm an adventurer and we will figure something else out for breakfast this week. Look how calm I am! Good job, Mom. I know. Not one of these feelings is individual. There is a whole, collective planet out there on this side like me, on the well side, with so little real to worry about right now. I'm living the good life. I shouldn't be so selfish. We have jobs! We have insurance. Our loved ones are safe. You are so lucky. BE HAPPY! Be thankful. I forgot ballet zoom. The assignments are missing. They're not doing the art assignments. Don't over think it. Don't under-think it. The trash didn't go out. Wash your HANDS!
I know. Without a sneaking shadow of a doubt that when I am in THAT PLACE, that the right choice is to choose the least important thing. I know that when I am in THAT PLACE the thing that most needs doing is the thing that least needs doing. The frivolous loaf of banana bread that makes the whole house smell like heaven, the game of Go Fish, the ridiculous photo we make together using old clothes and recreating a famous painting with our hands. Lounging on the bed and telling awful jokes. I have no question in my heart that when I intentionally fail at the dishes and the laundry for a few hours (NOT FOREVER, EW!), and when I put myself into a state where it is painfully obvious how completely UNIMPORTANT, UN-BUSY, and UN-PURPOSEFUL I am, that I have done the right thing in that moment. People have a lot of misgivings about "homebodies." I am one, without debate. But you will seldom (ok NEVER) find me cuddled up relaxing over a long series on Netflix. I am a homebody who NEVER STOPS MOVING. Almost never. And this is what I need to learn. Part of my motor is curiosity and enthusiasm and excitement for all the things in life that we can do and dream and build and make and produce and arrange . . . but part of it is quite probably, a constant quest to feel as though I am GOOD and IMPORTANT and NEEDED in the world . . . and FANCY and ACCOMPLISHED because I am doing things non-stop, and I'm busy. If I never stop, I have behaved well for the day. I am certain that the constant wheels of my personhood and BUSY-ness are actually driving a vehicle that is searching on a map for the rest stop, desperate to get to that wonderful place of quiet and peace, fully knowing and believing that it is there for me, but constantly forgetting to get off the road.
It takes a type of discipline to accomplish lots of things in life, and to do them well. It takes a wholly different type of discipline to choose wisely when to intentionally fail to do all the things, knowing with certainty that that is a losing battle, an impossibility, a waste of the precious days to fail to seize at least a little of the beauty and joy and wonderment that present themselves to us each time the new sun comes up. If I forget that for too long, it really shows on my soul.
I have a deep obsession with the word WONDER . . . it's been my one word since just after I came out of college. Somewhere, I realized that if I had no other things in life but a sense of wonder that I would be more than okay. When I forget to seek and invest in wonder, the peace of my life falls away. They are woven together for me.
In the coming days, with a new routine, I hope to choose my tasks more intentionally, to focus on wonder, and to end my day's to-do lists intentionally incomplete. I intend to choose more of the least important things so that my heart and soul will be full of drive and passion to be ALL IN on the very important and FANCY things that give me pride and purpose. I don't want to give up or neglect the duties and the work that life asks of me. I truly mean and intend quite the opposite, I want to be mindful to not ONLY choose tasks and jobs and work all day. All of my jobs in life are braided together right now, and I know that I have to maintain them to maintain logistical peace in our home. We have to be tidy enough. We have to eat. We have to learn, I have to teach. But I know that in a season of particular stress and even worry, that it is even more essential for me to make time for the things that nobody will see or hear, that give me no accolades or trophies. I know that I need to choose staying a little longer to sing songs with Ellamay and looking ridiculous on a scooter with Finn and deeply listening to written stories that Tessa produces. I know that I need to choose a bath sometimes and a brick of dark chocolate. I know I need to sit and do nothing.
I hope that the whole planet examines our ideas of productivity in this season and considers what exactly we are so frantic to produce. I know that my soul is screaming to me in these quieter days that it wants to produce love and peace and relationship with my husband and my children. I know that my heart is calling for a God of wonder who has led me through rough and still waters before, to produce connection. I want to produce good memories of this season that my children will never forget, that I will remember when my hands have deeper wrinkles and lines. I'm trying to put down the dishes and the iPhone and the laptop and just go ahead and do the least important thing.