“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.” ~ JD Salinger, “A Girl I Knew” Sometimes do you feel like you are trying - and failing - to hold the universe together? I don’t mean the WHOLE universe, of course (now wouldn’t THAT be a task), but the universe of your life, whatever that may be. Your job, your family, your home, your health, your friends, your creative ambitions, your grand plans, your pets, your breakfast… that kind of thing.
Yep, me too. It’s a big job, isn’t it, universal maintenance. Should we learn to let go a little? Maybe. Or maybe not.
Last week I was sick at the same time as my children were sick and that was… challenging… especially as it came on the back of about a month of bad and broken sleep, and descended only two weeks after I’d recovered from a prolonged cough that had racked me to the core.
It felt like forever that I’d been “normal” and when I came downstairs last Friday, still unwell but definitely on the mend and at least able to stand without wobbling and (more important) able to keep down a cup of tea, the first thing I wanted to do was to regain control of my own little universe.
After successfully getting the kids off to daycare (anyone with toddlers knows what a mammoth task that is in its own right), that meant tidying the house so that I could find enough surfaces to clean and scrub the house, following the rigours it had endured of small children being looked after by their father. It meant stock-taking the contents of the ‘fridge, sadly depleted. It meant dusting off the pile of briefing notes and research on my desk, apologetically emailing neglected editors and clients, and writing up a task-list with associated deadlines on my whiteboard.
And so on and so forth. None of those tasks was particularly fun, and not how I wanted to spend my time. How I really wanted to spend my time was in writing and drawing and painting. Or, if I was still too sick to get creative, I wanted to spend my time under a crocheted rug, watching re-runs of Veronica Mars.
But somehow it was enormously satisfying to be putting my own world - ok my universe - to rights. The life I lead right now might be small, to some. It is small compared to my past, even, filled with the domestic mundanity of life with small children and a part-time job that I do from home, trudging through the same kind of writing I was doing more than a decade ago.
But in this little universe, I am Queen. This life is MINE and I have chosen it and I am in charge of it, and that feels GOOD.
Even when I’m on my hands and knees, scrubbing something unidentifiable off the playroom floor.
How is your universe holding up?
Lovely, dreamy girl image is by Schlomit Wolf, licensed for unconditional use under Creative Commons