289 /// Solid Ground is Forming

I’m feeling good this morning. I’m feeling like myself. It’s been so long since I’ve had both motivation and focus that I hardly knew what to do with it all. I spent the morning getting through some minor chores and checking off a few small to-dos before sitting down at my desk. All day I’ve had a strong urge to write but of course, motivation and focus are only 2/3 of the equation. You need inspiration to get anything of value down.

Or do you?

I saw a tweet from Austin Kleon this morning with a simple writing tip: write down every dumb thought that occurs to you and each day simply choose the least dumb thought to write about. Well, I have been filling my notebooks with dumb thoughts for weeks. Hell, I have a dumb thought or two floating around right now! Thinking dumb thoughts is damn near a talent of mine. If that’s all I need to write then I’m in great shape to get started, to keep going, and to get as far as any dumb thought will go!

This might be the extra push I needed, the permission I needed. I don’t have to find a good thing to write about. I just have to choose the least dumb thing I can think of. Hell, I may try choosing the dumb thing and try making it not so dumb. I could choose the most fun thing? Or the most interesting thing. The point is to work with what I have: this brain, these ideas, this blog, and this timeframe. Yes, I like that.

Outside of motivation and focus, a lot of other good things have been happening. There’s been setbacks and stress, but there’s been enough positivity, connection, and kindness that life feels good right now. I feel loved and capable, and the people around me are feeling loved and capable too.

I suppose that’s what happiness, or flourishing, starts with. Being seen and having some say about what happens to you in this world.

I think the COVID pandemic has been a hole that we’ve all been trying to crawl out of for years now. The virus has had such far-reaching and complex impact it’s hard to say what was caused by or made worse by it and what are normal setbacks in a typical human life but between the losses, the economy, the fear and anxiety, the deficits and the changes in belief and perspective we have all gone through I’d say there is no part of society and no one of us that isn’t trying to find that new stability. That new way forward.

Solid ground is forming again, or, at the very least, this new chaos is less scary than it used to be. Our ability to adapt to the worst conditions is both a great flaw and a great strength. No matter what the reason and no matter for better or worse, I’m glad to be rid of some of the bad feelings. I’m happy to hope again.

279 /// They Are Changing Me

I’m feeling that good kind of tired this morning. The kind that comes after physical exhaustion rather than mental. I spent yesterday evening celebrating my nephew’s 4th birthday at the trampoline park nearby along with his young sisters.

When I arrived, I swore I would not get out there much with them, but I quickly found myself sucked in by their adorable enthusiasm, and the next thing I knew I was playing, running, climbing, and jumping right along with them. It’s been a long time since I have moved my body for the sake of simply feeling where it meets the world and what it can do within those limitations—if such limitations do exist.

Before we left, I even considered signing up for a monthly membership just so I could bring them again and let them take me away on their little adventures, exploring and learning about the world all over again. I have forgotten what it’s like to see the world with new eyes. Children have their own wisdom and I’d like to spend some time in their world seeing from their point of view.

I rode on a new route at work today and talked at length with another coworker about how much we have both learned from the child we serve on the job. This year I got to spend quite a few afternoons with a young girl on the Autistic spectrum. She is non-verbal, so communication was difficult at first. I am not good at being still, observant, or patient enough at times, and she takes her time warming up to new people.

Limited seating forced me to sit next to her and since the driver we were with learned the route quickly, I had time to get to know her. I would talk to her softly, asking if it was okay for me to sit by her, if she had a good day, and if she was excited to see mom. She didn’t respond verbally, but I began, slowly, to notice the way she turned from the window and tried to look at me when I spoke. I noticed her eyes widening. I noticed when, after asking for a high five, whether she would push my hand away or run my palm.

Thinking she didn’t like me much I told mom that was all I could get from her and to my surprise she got very excited. Apparently, the hand rub meant she liked me. I began to notice more. I noticed sly smiles and short bursts of laughter and marked when they occurred. I noted the days she was getting specific snacks or when dad joined mom at the bus stop to greet her. When needed, I repeated myself slowly. I was patient with her responses and did my best to learn the basics of her language.

I have been working with these children for years and there are many such languages I have learned, but they are the ones the screamed their needs in every gesture and misbehavior. I had yet to take in something calmer, slower, subtler. I feel challenged again. I feel opened to something new.

I used to hate having to switch routes so much. I get so attached and I have never handled change well, but these past couple of years I have gotten to meet more students than ever with wide-ranging needs, and ways of interpreting the world have opened my eyes. They are changing me and always for the better. They are teaching me more than how to listen; they are teaching me new ways to speak.

I wish I could teach others in turn what I have been taught, but it would only be a hollow mimicry, flat and fake. I suppose the real lesson they are teaching me is what it is I am really called to do in my work. It is up to me to show others how to be open to their wisdom too.