Sunday, December 5, 2010
Hard is working on your thesis to the exclusion of everything and anyone else. Hard is putting your nose to the grindstone while your family spends the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with friends. Hard is ignoring the movies that have been coming to the local theater, turning a deaf ear to the siren song of buttered popcorn. Hard is turning a blind eye to the ever-filling laundry hamper while the stash of available clothes is rapidly being depleted. Hard is typing even when your fingers hurt, or the sty in your eye is making it difficult to focus. Hard is getting up the courage to let others read your work. Hard is reading through their critiques and criticisms, then putting all that well-meaning and intentional effort into making your work better than it was originally. Hard is thinking you will never arrive at the end, or when the end comes much sooner than you were realistically expecting. Hard is putting all of your thoughts, ideas, hopes and dream into words that come to comprise the longest document you have ever created in your life and hitting the Send button. Hard is thinking it was the end, put knowing there will still be tweaks and adjustments. Hard is resisting the urge to fling the printed manuscript across the room. Hard is the agonizing wait to find out if it has been given the seal of approval. Hard is finally finishing and staring at the door that has just been opened, before stepping into unfamiliar territory wondering “Now what??!” But easy, ahhhhhh. Easy is…
These days, the hardest thing I do is yoga. Sure, raising children is hard, but it's hard in the same way digging a hole is hard: one shovelful of dirt after another, the occasional boulder that takes massive effort (and restraint) to budge. Not hard in a dangerous way. Yoga isn't dangerous either; there's pretty much zero chance of being escorted to the emergency room with broken bones, facial wounds, or bloody stumps. Yes, my hips hurt. Yes, my shoulders feel a bit tapped. But I don't feel weak and mortal upon entering the studio. I used to laugh at danger from a great height. I climbed trees to the thinnest branches, where, when the wind blew, I swayed along with the sticks that barely held my teenage weight. I used to ride a horse that thought it a joke to spring me from his back every. damn. day; I obliged with legs of vapor and never acknowledged I might die from this. I jumped out of a plane once. With a parachute, but still. Now, the swings at the playground give me pause. I rode the tea cups with L at the fair last year and nearly had to plead with the toothless attendant to stop the ride. The top of the Super Slide at the same fair - I couldn't look out, only down at my own shaky feet. I live now in a soft tunnel padded with ever-present laundry, bolstered by the conviction that I am sparing my children potential heartache by staying so safe and so alive; but it's an excuse. Really, I've just turned into a chicken. Have you heard about these woman who leave behind their babies to climb treacherous mountains in distant countries which may not have adequate emergency response times? My knee-jerk reaction is to grimace and shake my head: how selfish. But I'm hiding a deep, persistent envy. I'm not as brave as those women. I've made it a daily habit to turn away from the hard stuff. Maybe, like so many other things (lingering over morning coffee, all-day Jane Austen movie marathons, working for more than five minutes without interruption), risk will come back into my life when my children are further along the path toward adulthood. I'm not sure I'll ever leap from a perfectly good plane ever again, but at least I might get back on a horse. Or even climb to the uppermost branches of a swaying tree.