Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Apple cake and chocolate cake

As she was having her hair brushed this morning, my daughter sighed and said, Sometimes I wish I'd never been born.

Casually I asked her, What makes you say that?

Oh, she said, having to walk to school... having to wait for birthdays... Sigh.

But if you'd never been born, you'd never get to eat chocolate cake, I said.

Or apple cake! she replied, It's delicious! I never thought of that!

And she perked right up.

I wish every case of ennui was so simple to fix.

For years, I moped around. Never relaxed in what I was doing, never sure of what I had chosen, I ended up doing little and choosing less - and second-guessing even those. I didn't enjoy much, and felt guilty about just about everything else. Guilty for not achieving, guilty for hating work, guilty for having fun when others in the world struggle and starve. And I was bored, bored with my city, my life, my self.

Things change. I risked marriage. I risked having kids. I left my boring job, and stayed home. Now no-one in the world would find my life exciting. I spend it doing the small tasks that keep a family of five running, interspersed with dribs and drabs of writing here and there. Life is an interplay of washing and words, heavy on the washing. Yet somehow, in the smallness of my doing, I am finding an expansiveness of being. An expansiveness that is no longer demolished when a five year old plays around with words and feelings, a sturdiness that knows what makes life good.

After all, these days, I'm delighted that I was born. I, too, love apple cake and chocolate cake, curling up with a book, playing hide and seek with my kids, and hanging out with my husband. I have a garden to grow things, opportunities for reflection, friends that are true. Who wouldn't want to be alive? I wonder. Who wouldn't sing aloud with joy as they ride through the streets at night?

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