We have a fly problem. We’ve had it for a year but it has reached a climax. I know why we got them and I knew what had to be done to fix the problem. We did part of the fix but until today I hadn’t completed it. The flies have finally become scary to me. I’m not especially grossed out or worried about flies. (That’s because I don’t spend time at crime scenes or work the livestock trade.)
The chickens are the reason but they aren’t the real reason. It was our getting buried deeper and deeper into the folds of an impossible life. We’re pretty strong people. The clinical mental problems, bad backs, weak ankles, sprained ligaments, and general malaise aside, I’d say we’re fairly robust middle aged people. Still, when you think life has given up on you, sent all your good karma to someone else out of spite, you let things go like poor chicken-run design.
It’s amazing how quickly a neglected small problem can blossom into something ugly and overwhelming.
I have learned not to think too much about what’s going to fall apart next* or to wait for the worst to be over. Waiting was the theme of my thoughts while weeding. If you think they were a navel-gazing festival of sad “why ME?”s strung out pathetically across the wildly overgrown raised bed you would be a total lunkhead (and maybe a little more mean than me) because I was thinking about waiting in a more inclusive way. I was, more likely than not, thinking about you. About all of us. About this thing people do where they develop a waiting pattern in their lives that turns into the only pattern in their lives.
I’d say I’ve done a lot of waiting but I’m waiting a lot less these days. There are so many unresolved things going on in my life. There are fires all over the place just like in everyone else’s lives. I don’t know if I’ll still be living in this house next year. It really all depends on the whims of the bank and our level of meticulousness with filing papers repeatedly and consistently for months and months. It’s so easy to say I shouldn’t bother to plant the apple tree that’s been living in the pile of dirt in the driveway because I might not get any fruit from it. It’s so easy to tell myself that I shouldn’t tackle the unbelievably ornery weeds because if the bank makes us go then I’ll have done the work for nothing.
It might sound reasonable and I’m willing to bet that each and every one of you has said the same thing at some point in your life. “I shouldn’t bother trying to look nice today because I probably won’t see anyone else.” or “We shouldn’t have a baby until we make more money.” or “I don’t want to start a garden until I own my own home.” or “I shouldn’t practice piano because in five years I’ll be able to afford a church organ and I’ll have a mansion to put it in and all this piano playing sure will feel useless and stupid. I could have spent all this time wishing I was playing a church organ.”
Waiting isn’t always bad but it’s always bad when you’re not doing what you really want to do because everything isn’t just right. Waiting to become an artist when life isn’t so crazy anymore means you will never become an artist. The quack grass is a real bitch and yet I have to say that I have my best thoughts while I’m killing myself to rip out each tough little rope of root. (I still think of Bush and his neck while performing this arduous but deeply satisfying activity.) If you hear yourself saying things like “When I make more money I’ll…” or “Once I finish college I’ll…” or “Just as soon as I have a dozen children I’ll become a famous mime!”
(In that last case I can only be deeply deeply thankful that you most likely won’t become a famous mime because people who haven’t figured out that miming isn’t magical really scare me.)
It’s bullshit. In case you haven’t already figured that out. The beautiful thing about being a grown up is that you have control over what you do with your time and what you do with your life. None of us live in a vacuum and you can’t just sashay off to the north pole to study polar bears if you’ve got family that needs you to not do that. On the other hand, if you really wanted to do that and it was truly deeply important to you you would get your family on board with you and you would build a mutually beneficial life that includes studying polar bears.
If your husband/wife/partner isn’t keen to support you in doing what you really truly want and need to be doing in life then you might need to rethink such a partnership. (But first you better figure out if you’ve been supportive of their own desires and needs because most people who love each other want to help each other reach fulfillment in life, but it always ALWAYS goes both ways so be sure you’re doing your end.)
There are a thousand ways to go about doing what you want to do without ditching your friends and family and not all of them involve giving up wheat and dairy. What I kept thinking was that if you’re not doing what you always say you want to do then you don’t really want to do it.
A person who says they really want to be painter but claim they have no time and then have another baby is a person who had time to paint but chose to have another baby instead.
Think about that hard.
You might not be able to do everything in life you want if you’re like me and have an endless list of things you love doing. However there is always one thing that is more important than anything else and you know what it is. I remember a friend of mine, many many years ago (back when Max was an infant), telling me (with great longing, sad saucer eyes, and a general air of defeat) that she and her partner really wanted to have kids but they were going to wait until they had better jobs first so they could afford it. Then, later on, she went on about how they would try to have children just as soon as they owned their own home. Still later, (still childless and still not actually trying), she said that they’d start trying just as soon as they made a trip they’d always wanted to make.
I’m no great advocate of people having kids but I finally had to say that if she really wanted to have children she should just fucking get on with it because after all these years of pining and wishing and not even trying she might find she’s not even able to have them and then she’ll have a whole new problem to worry about. I told her there was never going to be a good time because babies are damn inconvenient and if you lose your job or your house after you have one it’s really hard to send them back.
It’s the same with everything else. It’s a universal story. If you want to be a chef you’ll spend every damn available minute you can cooking even if you’re working 70 hours a week as an accountant. If you want to be a mother and you have no babies you will either start trying and if you can’t have them you will adopt or foster because if you really want to be a mother you will find someone to mother and you’ll do it right now because it’s that important to you.
If you’ve always wanted to be taxidermist but haven’t done it because you can’t find a taxidermy academy in your area or you haven’t done it because no one you know wants you to become one then you don’t want it enough. I know someone who’s doing it right now who didn’t go to an academy nor ask anyone’s approval nor wait until he’s done waiting for no good reason. It’s possible it’s been a bit of a rocky road for him at times (sometimes that’s good for the taxidermist, right?) but he’s doing it and enjoying it and no matter what anyone thinks, he’s not waiting.
So what are you waiting for? What excuses are you feeding yourself?
I’ve been waiting to tame my yard and strip the stupid wallpaper edging in my house because the house might be taken away from me and then I’ll have wasted my precious time. I’ve been waiting to plant my sad (but beloved) Damson plum tree because I tell myself spending money on the soil to plant it and the effort to plant it might be wasted. While I’m weeding out there the thing that strikes me hardest is this: it isn’t about wasted time or energy. Weeding might be hard but every single time I do it I feel great. I think more clearly while I do it. I feel better when I’m done with it, even if I only cleared one square foot of garden space. It’s the doing that matters. There is no such thing as wasted time or wasted efforts.
We all have endless opportunities every single day to choose to do the things we really want to do, at least for a few minutes, and every single day that we choose to exercise the self discipline it takes to make our lives what we want it to be is not a wasted day or a wasted effort. Things will change. Life twists and bad things will happen just as good things will. But I believe that more good things will happen when we are feeding the needs of our spirit and when we feed our spirit we are indirectly feeding our loved ones too.
I know someone is worried about the flies. The flies will take time to eradicate. You have to work against several life cycles before you see change. It will take work on my part but I have risen to the challenge. The cleaning I did today took 3 hours. My hens are thanking me. I feel really fantastic. I’ll wake up and see a ton of flies tomorrow and it will make me anxious but I know what to do and I’m not waiting around anymore for things to explode or to get better on their own while I hide under my English prison table (tough enough to withstand riots and knives!).
I’m not waiting at all anymore.
*I don’t have to because I already know it’s going to be my teeth unless I get me to a dentist post-haste! I’m already showing signs of wearing the Oregonian dental special smile.