I have been surprised several times recently by simple gestures of kindness from total strangers. Unsolicited, without pretense or subtext, just kindness. It may not be that popular, but it is a real thing.
And I know that now it falls on me to keep the chain moving and pay back these gestures in some way, because that’s how these things work, and also because one woman specifically told me that that’s what I needed to do. So pay it back I will.
But this is a difficult one for me, because often in public I do not want to be kind to strangers. I want to hit them in their stupid faces. But at least I’m thinking about it now (the gestures of kindness, not the hitting part), and I can only assume that that’s the first step.
It’s a new year, so beyond resolutions some people have started their various blog, sketch, do ____ a day, #photo365, etc., projects, charging themselves with the creative challenge to do their whatever it is every day in 2016.
I’m usually not into that stuff, because I’m not very good at keeping it up, and I try not to design failures for myself. A couple of years ago I said I was going to take two (!) pictures every day for a year, and I’m pretty sure by this point in January I was already over it. 365 is not a small number.
But in 2015 I actually succeeded in keeping a daily logbook in the style of Austin Kleon. It’s a moleskin planner where you simply record the facts or events of your day. Though I’m not doing another one for 2016, I thought it was a cool project and an interesting exercise. And I was able to stick to it, which means I got to feel good about myself, and now I also have a written record of the details and actions of an entire year of my life, which is awesome, in a beauty of the mundane sort of way.
Full disclosure: I did not actually do the physical completion of the logbook every single day. But if I skipped a day or three, it was easy to go back and fill those days in, as long as I still remembered what happened. And I did succeed in never skipping so many days that my memory got shady. And I did not feel like I was cheating when I completed a days log retroactively, so all good.
This year is the ten year anniversary of me living in this little house that is my home. A decade. I have lived here longer than I have ever lived anywhere else in my entire life.
In a way this makes me feel old and sad. Especially when I look at all the cracks and leaks and work that needs to be done.
But in another way it makes me feel gratitude. It makes me feel love. I was 25 when I bought this house. I had had eight different addresses in eight years. I wanted roots somewhere.
I put some down.
My most favorite work of art right now. Hooly’s self-portrait, age 4. The artist notes that she is asleep in this portrait.
Journal snapshot. I added to this page one word or doodle at a time, over the course of about a month.
There’s a conversation that comes up repeatedly, especially with mothers of daughters, about how many of the powerful qualities we want our children to possess out in the world are the same ones that make us lose our minds at home. Yes I want my daughter to be strong-willed, but not when I’m late for work. Yes I want my daughter to think for herself and challenge what people tell her, but by people I did not mean me, at least not me at bed time.
During the most recent of these conversations a friend recommended an essay by Barbara Kingsolver, perfectly titled Civil Disobedience at Breakfast, from the book High Tide in Tucson. And if you feel where I’m coming from with this, then I now recommend it to you.
Her particular reference is the Terrible Twos but you could easily insert Threenager or Fournado, and it would still ring as true, that “life with children always bursts to fullness in the narrowest passages.” It isn’t that the essay says anything ground-breaking, and it will not, for example, help you get anywhere on time, but it’s funny and tender and well-written, and that is enough for me.
Let’s make this a love house, she says to me, as she uses half a new roll of tape to secure these hearts to the wall in our dining room.
Yes little girl, let’s.