Day: August 17, 2012

Venturing Forth at the End of Summer

I never intended to make a tradition out of End of Summer outings. But somehow we keep having an outing with the kids and I toward the end of August. Three years in a row makes it a tradition right? This year we ventured to the Tracy Aviary where we found ducks swimming in pools of light.

Or at least ducks who obligingly swam right in the sun’s reflection. When they went fast it looked as though they were scattering light behind them.

We also got to meet Andy, a giant condor out for a walk. He was as big as a medium sized dog. I kept thinking of dinosaurs as I saw him stalk along. He’s fifty years old and being slowly rehabilitated so that some day he’ll be able to fly over the heads of guests as part of a bird show. I hope to attend that show someday. Big bird.

We had a good time. Even during the parts which were boring, too hot, and full of rush hour traffic. Outings have frustrating bits. The kids are ready to head into school next week. Gleek did her summer assignment. Link assembled his binder. Patch put his things together. We’re ready for the next adventure.

Being Between

For the first time all summer, I find myself between. There is no more work I can do for GenCon and I can’t yet begin post-GenCon accounting. I’ve mailed all the things to ChiCon, but have to wait for Howard to get home before the final preparations. I’ve finished off the house organization projects which got shuffled aside during the crush of other things, and I’ve not yet decided what house project to tackle next. I’ve let go of my summer plans, but won’t embark on school schedule until next Tuesday. I am between. In some ways it is a lovely space, but staying here too long would not be good for me. I like moving forward.

Yesterday I read a letter from a friend where she lamented that every year she intends to plan and prepare better for the beginning of school. Then every year she ends up dealing with the same frantic scramble to get everything done. I read her words and realized that one of my focuses over the past six months is that I’m trying to be less prepared. I live much of my life planning for the future. I’m paying attention to thing I need to do today in order to prepare for events a week, a month, a year in the future. I’ve slowly become aware that the world is full of people who do not do this. I regularly see something coming, stress about it, plan ahead for it, and then move onward; only to find that others hit this same emotional process weeks or months later than I do. Several times I’ve had to straighten out a financial misunderstanding because I’ve paid a bill so early that the recipient mis-filed the payment. I plan ahead. Much of this is my job. I am the one to reserve a hotel room in February so that Howard has a place to stay at GenCon in August. I make sure that merchandise arrives where it is supposed to and when it is supposed to. I create schedules out of nothingness and then remind everyone to adhere to them. I intend to keep doing my job, accomplishing concrete tasks on a think-ahead timeline, but I want to shed all the needless stewing over possibilities.

My kids start school on Tuesday. Beyond reminding myself what the wake-up, drop-off, and pick-up schedule needs to be, I am trying not to think about it. Entering school will expose my kids to new information and people. They will shift and grow in response. Some of that growth will be painful and difficult. Tantrums and meltdowns are coming. I know it. If I sit down to think about it, I could predict what those crises would be, but then I would begin planning how I could respond to these hypothetical crises. After that I can imagine that the child does not like my response and reacts poorly. I could stage an entire melodrama in my head with branching possibility trees, a choose-your-own-adventure of parental stress. Except when school really does start, odds are that my kids will depart from the script in the first five minutes. All my fretting, planning, preparing would then be discarded because we’re going somewhere else. Instead of trying to improve my predictive abilities so I can better plan, I’m trying to trust that I’ll be able to deal with whatever comes when it arrives. Some things are concrete and life will be better if I plan ahead for them. Other things are in flux and I need to leave them alone until they are concrete. Living in flux is where I have to exercise my faith; faith in myself, faith in God, faith in the family members around me. Faith is often hard, I want to be able to predict and plan, as if I could plan life into calmness. Controlling something that is in flux is like trying to grab a fist full of water. I need to learn how to open my fingers, let the water flow past, and wait for something solid to grab.

So I am between, and will be until Monday. I will do the few small concrete tasks which are nearby and then I will endeavor to fill the remaining space with something enjoyable. Perhaps I can make something lovely out of these last few days of summer.