My Dear Ruthi,
Hello. I’m here too. Thank you for showing up, red puffy eyes and all.
There is so much on my mind, in my heart, on my camera, in your letters, and in ’40 Days’… Where do I begin? How much can a letter hold?
Can I start us with a timeout?! You say hiding. I say timeout. I take them even without permission. Sometimes they’re blow ups. Other times it’s called a break, or a sleep in, or to bed early, or reading time.
You’ve used the word ‘hiding’. But what if it (or at least some of it) is not about concealment, or evasion, or beasties. What if it’s just that thing you need? What if it’s part of the process? The process of personal restoration, reflection, recharge, reset, renewal, recreation. The process of being open hearted. The process of change. The process of creativity.
I love how Liz Gilbert lays out the creative process: [so here I go and look for it in “Big Magic,” but I can’t find it, and instead land here in my “Big Magic” notes… as edited when I typed them up… so perfect]
“But in order to live this way–free to create, free to explore–you must possess a fierce sense of personal entitlement, which I hope you will learn to cultivate… you will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe that you’re entitled to at least try… creative entitlement simply means believing that you are allowed to be here, and that–merely by being here–you are allowed to have a voice and a vision of your own… David Whyte “the arrogance of belonging”…without it you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety and into the frontiers of the beautiful and unexpected… it is a divine force that will actually take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with life. Because often what keeps you from creative living is your self-absorption (your self-doubt, your self-disgust, your self-judgement, your crushing sense of self-protection). The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self-hatred–not by saying “I am the greatest!” but merely by saying “I am here!”….Let it know you’re there… Hearing this announcement, your soul will mobilize accordingly… (Trust me, your soul has been waiting for you to wake up to your own existence for years.)… it’s something you must do daily forever.”
And this entitlement is all I kept wanting for you as I read your letter(s). You are entitled. To popcorn in bed. Self-sabotaging with food. To time-outs and hiding in forts. To big, wet, messy, hot tears. To blow ups. And cool downs. And returns. Again and again. These all seem so reasonable, if not also necessary. They might not be necessary for everyone, but they’re certainly necessary for a lot of us.
I need this entitlement too. This reminder. This big “YES!” to the things I need simply because I need them. And we’re right back to my first letter in this exchange and the power of “please keep telling me.” Or the weakness of it. Or the and/both of it. I read my father’s words and they seemed so romantic, so endearing, so honest, so raw, so straightforward – so very much like my father even though they were the words of a 24-year-old. The thing is, I wrote those very words on my own the day before I read them in his pen and my words felt so weak, so small, so embarrassing to have to say, please keep telling me… I mean something. I felt the immaturity in it. I expected more of myself. I wanted to be beyond it. Beyond the need of proof of belonging.
If I can give you but one thing, let it be the “arrogance of belonging,” open arms of love, an embrace to come ‘home’ to, as needed. One less thing on the list to be afraid of.
On Day 14 I paid attention to the beauty around me. That moment to make my soul sing. That moment when I was caught off-guard. And it was a timeout – go figure. A timeout I struggled to take. Most moments here on vacay are a struggle that way. A pile of shoulds (like Day 15). Should this be… extended family time? Engagement time? Play time? My time? Alone time? Couple time? Tidy time? Food time? Ben’s time? Kids’ time? (I’m aware that sounds ridiculous.)
Ben took the kids down to the pool for a pre-bed swim and I stayed back. He asked me three times if I was going to join them and with each ask and each ‘no’ my resentment built. It could have just been seen as loving encouragement and invitation. But there’s a ‘should’ war that goes on in my head. Always. To come to a decision and have it second guessed numerous times is an additional torture. When it comes in the face of me time, grrrr.
Left to my own devices, I sat to read so as to also watch the sunset. The light hit the pages of my book and it was so beautiful. I found myself so content right smack in the middle of my self-created imperfections.
Today is Day 16. Beauty and Passion day. So perfectly castles at the beach with my lovelies. Not that I’m passionate about sandcastles. But I am passionate about my kids, and time well spent with them (with no yelling), and building and creating, and sand and surf and sun (nicest beach weather day we’ve had this time around), and not worrying about lunch or sunburns, or giving in to the restlessness or minor irritants. No bugs, no dogs, no tears, and no fights really helped in making this be the longest and most enjoyable castle build yet.