It’s nearly midnight and G is away on a fishing trip in the UP — knee deep in streams plucking trout out of the Escanaba.
My mind has been wandering all over the place this summer — I’ve spent alot of time listening to Krista Tippet’s On Being — a show aired here through our National Public Radio. Each program I choose I keeps circling back around the same things in my life: how to reconnect my body and brain — to be embodied in my response to life — and by that I mean living with a full and kind heart and not finding refuge in my brain — a place so adept at intellectualizing and severing me from my own heart. Every day seems like Buddhist practice to me — every day that I am parenting either child at either stage — summoning the compassion and remembering what it felt like to life in the household of a mother who, at times, could be so far removed as to be completely and utterly absent — whether by design or default.
I listened to a program just yesterday about Sylvia Earle — an oceanographer famous for being the first person to walk untethered on the deepest depths of the sea floor — and I marveled at how she, a woman seven years older than my own, had the wherewithall to believe she could do it — that she was capable of it. I spend a great deal of time reflecting on my own mother’s regrets and trying to follow the unraveled thread back … all I come up with after all of this is that parenting, and in my specific case — mothering, sets the foundation for so much else — that seems simple, right? I mean, of course it does — but the belief that the world is a solid place, that people are inherently good, that there is possibility — what greater gift than that?
Before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning the first things that usually float across my brain have to do with the last weeks of my friend’s life. A look on her face. A tone in her voice. The light behind her at lunch when she dreamt about the summer she would never see. I was just in bed reading the recent issue of Tricycle Magazine when I read Katy Butler’s article on her father’s long decline — and how modern medicine and technology have allowed for our bodies to tick on in some cases far past the point when they perhaps should — and she writes beautifully about her family’s anguish over the ethics surrounding his death. It was reading that article that got me thinking again about getting back to the page. Any page. This page.
There’s a section of the magazine that has brief teachings — and in the piece Cutting the Threads by Subhadramati she writes “In his elegy to a poet friend, Don Paterson says that death came and “gently drew a knife across the threads/that tied your keepsakes to the things they kept.”
I reread that three or more times. Thought about how lately this house has seemed so insurmountable — things spilling out of closets, from out of baskets — thousands of sheets of forgotten papers and forms — old drum kits and broken vases — ten years of outgrown clothing. It can be made sleek on the surface — all of this — glossed and vacuumed — doors shut, drawers slid closed — but turn around and the weight of it — and then I see it for what it is. I can’t sleep for thinking about her things — the knife gently across the threads — and how empty the spaces without her are. How all of us fill these spaces with such vitality and we stop seeing one another. Our spouses, our friends, our children.