Tuesday, November 01, 2016

When you run short on time, make your own

From Saturday's Briefing:

My Katie aspires to publish poetry and books.
It's the career goal that's endured the longest in her 11 years, outlasting paleontologist, veterinarian and artist.
I offer advice while she's still amenable (before the full-on teen years hit). I encourage her to read voraciously, practice writing daily and visit with as many people as she can. I promote taking risks and trying new approaches.
I tell her to prepare for the cold, dark writing winter -- the days haunted by a lack of ideas or coherent thoughts -- by gathering ideas and details all year.
"Store acorns for the days you desperately need food," I occasionally tell her. "Act like a squirrel."
Much more often, though, she hears from me words like:
"Move with a purpose."
"Don't dawdle."
"Let's go!"
We have meals to make and eat, laundry to clean and fold, homework to complete, words to study, songs to practice, deadlines to meet, people to see. There's little time to mess around or look around.
There are moments every now and then when she's putting on shoes or brushing her hair or eating a quick meal from the comfort of the minivan because we've simply run out of minutes to complete those necessary tasks in the home.
There are evenings when all three of us collapse in the family room, exhausted from the running around that comes with being engaged and involved and possibly slightly overcommitted, and we take turns describing our day, with nary a mention of respite or relaxation.
Therefore I've become an unwitting contradiction, imploring my children to enjoy each day as a gift while also imploring them to keep up the pace (and plotting ahead to the next possible morning that we can all wake without an alarm clock).
Katie's living a full life, which will certainly offer fodder for writing, but does she have enough time to reflect on it? Does she have time to gather and sort acorns?
Apparently she's making time on her own.
A friend and neighbor recently shared with me how Katie walks to school in the mornings. She strolls. She ponders. She examines tiny details. She absorbs the world at her feet and fingertips.
I'm forever finding little notes around the house. She writes encouraging phrases on the chalkboard near her bed.
She's doing a little plotting of her own. She talks about living in a tiny cottage near the coast and the mountains, preferably in Oregon or Maine. She's invited me to live nearby, though not in the same home because she doesn't want anything too big and she plans to have a family of her own.
Last week, she and I were admiring the moon from our quiet, flat suburban street, when she sighed and remarked, "I need to live where I can stare at the moon through a canopy of trees."
She's soaking up details and storing them away. She's finding time to daydream and consider and observe. It's too early to predict what career path she'll ultimately take, but I have no doubt that whatever she chooses, she'll pursue it with passion -- and at her own pace.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at tyradamm@gmail.com.

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