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August 2012
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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.

2 comments to Being Between

  • Ginger

    Like the analogy of trying to grab a fistful of water. Though my brain immediately tries to extend it. Grabbing water isn’t of any use. But just letting it flow past? Flowing water is still very malleable if you close your fingers and shape a hydraulic blade. But to tie it back to times of flux, directing the current or moving yourself through it (if the current is bigger than you), would be the small decisions that don’t have any obvious bearing in life or upcoming projects, but end up having results anyway. Sort of the Karma idea. Which means that for life to be in so much flux that you actually can’t do anything at all to control your direction, it would need to be either still water or water with mixed currents?

    But dealing with flux isn’t quite so much to do with being able to direct motion as to do with being able to predict where it would be a good idea to direct motion. When streams are flowing slow and deep, they are considered ‘sub critical’ and the shape of the water surface gives information about upcoming stream bed geometry. When the flow is fast and shallow, the it is ‘super critical’ and the water is moving so fast that you get no information about rocks or obstructions until after you’ve actaully passed them. The rocks in the rapids are in smooth water just before the disturbed waves. So life in flux in this version would be super critical flow. Now critical flow is unstable and water never stays in this state, but you have to move through it to get between the other two states. When the water moves from sub to super, it has a smooth transition. When you go from super to sub you get a huge turbulent hydraulic jump that eats up lots of energy. …so… The start of the school year is super critical flow for you. High energy, no foreknowledge, possibly sharp rocks up ahead. But the transition to it is a fairly smooth curve and it’ll stay that way until after the rocks have been discovered.

    Now, if the analogy actually holds true, then you can expect to have some huge waves and and energy loosing drama (possibly over an apparently benign section of stream bed whose slope is just a bit gentler than) before you get back into the slow stead deep flow of known schedule of the school year. Or I suppose you could be super critical through the whole school year and have a hydraulic jump at the start of summer.

    More likely, the analogy has been stretched far beyond it’s bounds of comparison and has no relevance at the end. =)

  • This post is lovely. I like the idea of being in between things. Granted, it’s no fun to be there for very long, but there are some definite pluses to just allowing yourself to be in between projects. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!