You don’t always have to be right. You won’t always be. In every new season of my life I realise how much I don’t know. But those gaps have a way of filling themselves. There’s this Kafka passage Tom Robbins quotes in Still Life with Woodpecker; “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Here is a secret that’s not really a secret (people will try to tell you that’s wisdom); you don’t always have to know what you’re doing either. Or what you want to do, or where you’re going. It is perfectly okay to just sit with that not knowing. To wait it out. To think it over. To try a bunch of things. To like them or not like them. To succeed or fail. Where and who you are supposed to be will find you. Your future is waiting, and you are the only one it wants. It’ll come to you. It always does.
We are all here; worrying the same worries and feeling the same feelings and thinking the same thoughts. The best you can do, at all times and anywhere, is to be kind. To yourselves especially. Be patient. When it all feels too slow or too hard or too much, try to remember that everything you have done has brought you to now, and you managed all those other times that felt too slow or too hard or too much, didn’t you? You kept breathing in and out and putting your right foot in front of your left foot until you found yourself somewhere else. Somewhere where maybe it was easier to breathe. Remember to breathe. It may sound too simple to be meaningful, but that’s a another lesson for another letter. Try and appreciate the good things, even in the bad times. Because they are there too, just as much and as ever and the hard things.
Read widely. Listen to all sorts of records, especially if someone you love loves them. These are the secrets people will share with you without even realising. Take a lot of photographs. I began the 365 project I’ve been doing this year, to help and mend a broken heart I was holding. One day at a time is a powerful thing. It’s enough. It is so easy to get caught up trying to figure out the future, when you’re headed there anyway.
Mabel; I think we all forget sometimes how young you are; only 2. But you have reminded us this month, with your tantrums, your demands, so seemingly out of character, but so suitable for where you are right now. Being only 15 months younger than your brother, you have almost rolled into a twinship. But you are you and our very best you at that. You come up to me sometimes, and take my hand and say ‘best friends’. You like to build towers from all my library books and when I give you a carrot dipped in hummus, you eat the hummus off and hand me back the carrot, “More pwease!” you tell me, rather than ask. You’d live on crackers, if I let you. I woke up the other day, to find you sitting on my bed, crumbling a mysterious piece of polystyrene all over my bed covers. “It’s snowing, Mama!” you told me, as a million uniform snowflakes drifted over us. They stuck in your eyelashes, like some kind of Man Ray, and oh, I just can’t get mad at you. You overwhelm me with happiness. Your face heralds it.
Theodore; this time next year we will be preparing you for school. Just as I am beginning to feel as though I am getting this thing right. As our rhythm is finding us and carrying us over. That’s how these things happen, my love. The music swells, and our lives along with it. You say the most tremendous things, all day, without pause. “Where are my formal pants” you asked the other day. I had to tell you I didn’t know, because, formal pants? Where are you off to? The theatre? I ask you a lot of questions back, wanting you to look for your own answers, wanting to show you the possibility not knowing offers. And then there are some things, like when you say ’emergent seat!’ instead of emergency, which make me smile too hard to correct. Try and remember humility, Bubba. Never let yourself be shamed into it. But know that there is a connectivity that comes with it. Something relateable. Because when you are singing ‘heyyyyyy, sassy neighbour!’ as the lyrics to Gangnam Style, there is always going to be someone who thought those were the words too. And then you can laugh about it. Together.
I think I write you these letters as a way to hold on to you. Or to hold on to myself. To try to preserve something that is both fleeting and forever. I am sure, when you’re old, and I am trying to explain to you all that we find and feel over the course of all things, you’ll throw back to me, over your shoulder and out the door, “Yeah. I know, Mama. You covered that in Newsletter 57”. “Consider yourself lucky”, I’ll call after you, never to old to kick your ass, “that I was so consumed with love for you, I had to tell the whole world our story”.
Our tiny landscapes.
I love you all the love,