Updated: Sep 25
The weather, for instance: it’s everything lovely at once, then the opposite. I know yet again after looking at the forecast for highs in the 100s after several days of highs in the 80s, lovely evenings with just an edge of chill, and sweet refreshing breezes each month. But everything comes in waves, so much, too much, at the speed of light, then nothing but ennui and existential dread for a while.
I look nostalgically at parents of young children now, and whenever I can snag walking back and forth with their newborns, I’m happily on the case, remembering how much I loved holding and rocking my own babies. But back then, I was also overwhelmed by the non-yielding intensity of carrying them for hours, even doing the dishes (when I didn’t just let them accumulate for days) with a baby in a front pack, trying not to splash them as I scrubbed pots.
Likewise, my work life has been a whirlwind of feast and famine that’s had me logging long hours over the years ,doing everything from grading papers to reviewing thesis projects to planning conferences. Now that I’m a post-institutional woman and work for myself, I ride the rapids of everything going exceeding well at once to the drought-stricken stretches when I don’t know if a workshop, a retreat, a project I’ve put out there will be a go or not just around the bend.
For most of us — maybe all of us — this strange rhythm of all or some or nothing takes precedent. Lots of friends and I joke (although it seems to be no joke) about bad things, from deaths to minor-key disappointments, happening at once. We get a terrible phone call or email, then wait for the other shoe (or shoes) to drop, which they inevitably do. I’ve witnessed so many times when people I loved were dying, sometimes far outstripping any predictions or hospice support, then within a week or a month, everyone on the cusp passes away, making me wonder if there was something in the air.
Well, maybe it’s not in the air but what the air and earth and wild and docile rivers and we are made of: the life force, which doesn’t flow in any steady stream, but in drips and explosions. Life rarely does much in moderation, like right now when thousands of cicadas are building up their crescendo of buzz from all directions and the temperature is rising. It’s all a ride for sure, but thankfully we have each other’s company when we’re waiting at the station or being propelled at 100 mph to somewhere we don’t yet know.