It’s Tuesday afternoon, which means I am writing with my Tuesday group, a delightful group of woman (and man) who travel as far as the Eastern part of the state and as near as down the street to exercise their “show up” muscles and visit with their muses. I am so grateful for these fellows on the writers journey I almost don’t know what to say. I love the moment when we shut our lap tops and pause before we take turns reading. I am constantly amazed by what bubbles up in these fifty minutes sessions.
Today I re-read an email from a former client, asking when I would teach a workshop called “Guitar Chords for Dummies” (twist my arm–sounds like fun) and noting that she is off taking her son to visit colleges. “Time flies,” she wrote. “Savor every minute.”
That was helpful. As I sat down with Elle to practice her little violin, I got as present as I could, pushing from my mind all the things I wanted to jump up and do (such as sort through the gigantic tub of her drawings and paintings, none of which I seem to be able to part with) and instead let her practice at her own speed. She wants to play her “Twinkle” variations as fast as she can; when do I interrupt to encourage her to refine her pitch or draw her awareness to her wrist alignment? Today I said, “Let’s let the CD play the harder variations and just listen to them go by.” “Yes,” she agreed. “Then we can just, you know, relax.” As she said this, in the timbre of a tweener, bobbing her head side to side and gesticulating with her wrists. “Sometimes it’s fun to relax.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Savoring is my creed. And most days, with savoring–being present, being attentive, being grateful–it goes pretty well. But there are times when the old anxiety dragon yawns, and its loud hot breath prickles the back of my neck, and I start to think I should be doing something more…important. Timeless. Making something that will last. Writing a classic song. Publishing my poor neglected novel. Inventing something that will save the planet from climate change, or at least make the life of a mother with small children easier.
Oh, and bring in huge amounts of income so I never have to wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things like burial insurance and other morbid-flavored thoughts.
One of the pratfalls of parenthood is that one can mistake the real and practical need to make a living to support these blessings we call kids with the delusion that our kids (or we) will die if they
-don’t go to private school
-don’t have iPods
-don’t have dance classes
-don’t get to play video games
-ever utter the phrase “I’m bored”
-don’t go on a trip abroad before they are 18
-don’t get squeezy yogurts in the lunch bags “like all the other kids.”
I am sure, if you work closely with kids, you have your own list. When I am not in my savoring mode, I get hooked into believing that I need to run around acquiring all these desires (and many of them are mine, not my kids’) and that if I do, everything will be OK. They will grow up happy, they will be high functioning, talented, socially integrated adults and most importantly, they will love me and never fail to mention the word, “Mama” without that soft, dreamy far away look in their eyes.
And I still want to be an artist on my own terms, which means, most likely, never making a higher salary than that of a (private school) kindergarten teacher.
As I am sure I have written here before, Katryna and I are gearing up for our big Twentieth Anniversary weekend called Jam for the Fans, June 10-12, here in Northampton. It’s going to be a Nields reunion of sorts. My ex husband David is flying up from North Carolina to play a few songs with us (“I’m rusty,” he cautioned me. “So it really has to be just a few songs.”) I ran into Dave Hower, our drummer, in Thornes Marketplace last week. He is about four weeks away from becoming a new dad himself. He will be onstage with us at the Iron Horse as we blast through our 20 year repertoire. I am excited, terrified, in denial, dissociated and curious about the whole weekend, even as I try to market it and build it and manifest it. Which is pretty much the way I have lived my whole life.
But most of all I want to savor it. And to that end, I am going to pace myself, just as Elle paces herself with her Twinkle variations. I will gear up, and I will stay present and witness. I will show up for myself and my family and my bandmates.