What would I have done if not this?

Everything has its honeymoon period. I believe that I have just exited my honeymoon with West Philadelphia. At least I’ve observed this pattern often enough to know that it always comes and doesn’t have to constitute a crisis, just careful observation and measured response. The summer was hot; the humidity high, the city loud, dirty, and stinky. Many of our friends were on vacation, and I felt a bit caged. And then, after a trip to upstate NY for work, where we were for ten days, we are catapulted into Fall. My oldest son has started preschool 5 days a week, the rhythm of our days is tightly measured now. And I wonder if that slow sticky summer was something I imagined– a heat induced state of strange imagery and slow motion.

Where a few weeks ago I wondered: how will I make it through summer without school to entertain my oldest son, now I wonder, what do I do when he’s gone five days a week?

Inside of this is also an unsought after question arising: what would I have done if not this? What life would I be living if not this one? An ordinary enough question, I know it well, having generally leapt into that next thing when it comes for years. And yet, now, I sense a need to be a more cautious leaper. I own a house, run a community school, have two children, and a husband with a tenure track job.

Perhaps it is not so much the question ” what would I have done if not this” but more “what is this life I have right now?” What is it that I actually am living day to day? How is it that I am spending this one life I’ve been given with this unexpected array of characters, colors, sights, sounds? As I sit on my brown couch and hear the sirens passing frequently on 49th Street, my youngest son asleep despite these sounds, how do I measure the worth of this moment? Why am I habitually prone to that question? What is the need to measure worth at all? And how can I recover from it? Couldn’t this be it? Sitting here, hearing, seeing, breathing, without the measuring of these things?

I feel the pull of this call to growth from deep inside of me, asking me: How do I sit fully in the midst of the love, the grief, the monotony, the loss, the joy that is unavoidable? I wonder if I can step up, and sit with it, right here, and right now without being swept into the next motion to be measured later when this moment is past.


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1 comment(s) on “What would I have done if not this?

  • This is my first visit to your blog, snagged by the beautiful contour of the phrase I found this morning on my Facebook News page, “doesn’t have to constitute a crisis, just careful observation and measured response.”

    I linked to the website, a rare move on my part. I was immediately rewarded with the enticing sign at the entrance, “Windy Tales and Mindful Wandering: The Cartography of Ordinary Life.” Rich! I stepped into the post and followed this morning’s walking tour and returned home feeling inspired.

    What a simple pleasure you have given me this morning with the shear beauty of your language, and the comfort of knowing someone else is measuring the moments, as I habitually do. Your call to ask a different question “What is the lIfe I have right now?” is a good reminder to not allow our doubts about our choices of the past take us away from the reality of the present. Thank you!

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