An Object in Motion, Stopped

We never did give LittleMan that haircut.  He started the 2014 semester with his usual sticking-out ‘do, despite our best intentions.

We never got to those last few loads of laundry, either; or the thank you notes (deeply grateful though we are…we’re working on it, I promise); or The Pile on the kitchen counter that desperately needs to be sorted through and filed.  We did not research the bunk-bed purchase, and I did not update my blog (although I will say with some satisfaction that 2013 was my most prolific year yet, nearly meeting my goal of a post a week).  We are still figuring out the best way to store the new toys, and we did not do the last goodwill run that would free up some closet space.

Time to dust off The List and add a few things.

I put The List away for the better half of last month, actually.  I replaced it with a different List (I love a List): a holiday List, a festive List, an only-once-a-year kind of a List.  But THE List, the one I maintain and live by every moment of every day, got a little rest.

Oh, it was indulgent.  And it took some getting used to.  But Sunday night while my husband put the kids to bed, in the glow of the first playoff win (go Niners) and the shadow of the impending workweek after a nice long break, I sat on the couch and looked around our messy apartment and pondered the pile of laundry in the bedroom and the school backpacks that should be loaded up and the many, many emails I have not answered and thought…Screw It.  And I turned on the TV and picked up the paper and sat, for just a few more minutes, enjoying the break.

Inertia: A state of motion (or not) that can only be altered by the application of force.  (I bombed Chemistry in high school but loved Physics.  I got Physics; I felt that Physics somehow applied to me.  Still do: The problem with going is it’s hard to slow down.  The problem with stopping is it’s hard to start again.)

I’m actually not a big one for resolutions.  It sounds cheesy but I really try to be my better self most of the time.  I try to work out, I try to make good choices, I try to make time for friendships, I fight for patience with my children (and sometimes — often — lose).  I am high-strung and I don’t take criticism well, and probably a lot of that has to do with constantly trying to be better (or with being so self-critical that I just can’t hear it from others), and I try not to be those things with mixed success…but the point is I don’t resolve one day to live a better life.  I resolve that most of the time.

That said, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about the blank canvas of a new calendar that makes one think: What would I like to do differently this time around?  Particularly after an unusual spell during which I gave myself permission to disconnect from The List in such a major way…Well, there is the challenge of starting again.  And the opportunity of starting differently.  Of re-ordering The List.  Re-writing it, even.  Editing it down a bit.

Is it weird to resolve to try very hard not to try so hard?

To think less and feel more.  To plan less and flow better.  To move on more easily and obsess as little as possible.  To say “no” more…which, put another way, is to acknowledge my limits and be honest about my priorities.

To know my priorities.

On our first morning in Tahoe after Christmas my husband and I took turns going to the gym while the kids watched movies, and around 10 they got a little house-happy, as they do.  We took a walk, we got some hot chocolate.  (It spilled.  We got some more.)  All over Tahoe City, the outdoorsy go-getters of the world were piling up their Subarus with skis and poles and boots and hitting the slopes, while we ambled along, admiring Christmas decorations and attempting to make snowballs out of frozen snow lining the sidewalk.  As I watched the traffic build up, I began to fret about our few days up there, if we were making the most of it.

People will ask what we did.  What will we say?  That we read, and watched too much TV, and made frozen pizzas for dinner and built Legos?  We should be skiing, we should be sledding, we should build a snowman, we should take advantage of this, we don’t push them enough, we don’t expose them to enough, we shouldn’t have spent so long at the gym and wasted the morning, we —


Just STOP.  Close your eyes, then look again.  

We had made our slow way to the beach, which is far too wide with the drought and the low lake levels.  In the shallows, Lake Tahoe was frozen solid out a hundred feet or so.  I sipped my coffee and squinted into the sun as the children found their footing in order to reach a mysterious ice castle melting away in the strange midwinter heat.  As they shuffled forward, occasionally grabbing hands to keep from falling, the mountain sunlight glinted off the glassy ice, turning their little bodies into silhouettes, their shadows like stretched-out mirror images.  Upon inspection, the ice castle was filled with tiny plastic horses and tiny nooks with low walls for climbing over, an ephemeral gift left by some enterprising passer-by the day before.  We explored, and time passed slowly.

What did John Lennon say, about life being what happens…?


Happy New Year.

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