This is it... the last weekend before I return to full time teaching in a high school English classroom. And, if past years are anything to go by, teaching English will live me feeling wrung out and used up at the end of each day, somewhat resentful at the end of each week that I have such a narrow little window in which to fit the rest of my life.
I don't want it to be like that. That's not new. But the both the desire and the challenge is keener now, since buying this house.
I've mentioned before how important the woods behind the house are to me. I grew up surrounded by woods, and I've longed to live in the woods ever since I left them, to go out and try to create an adult life.
As a child, I at least believed that I lived a life with a kind of balance. My parents had important, meaningful work, but also friends, time outdoors, a house and a garden they were able to take good care of... it looked good, and I both wanted a life like that, and have been afraid I'd be unable to have one.
Whether because my parents were superhuman mutants (Don't laugh! It's a theory I have been known to entertain) or because the world had changed, or because the life I thought I knew as a child never really was that life, I have not felt that I've ever managed anything like the graceful life, lived in balance, that I at least believed my parents had. Of course, to a child, a summer is an eternity, and anything that lasts a year is forever. There are ways that childhood, at least if it is a happy childhood, does lend itself to certain illusions. But this one, that one day I will live a life of balance and love, has been remarkably persistent. I don't feel that I've ever quite found it; and yet I've never stopped seeking it: a sustainable, productive life.
This house reminds me so much of my childhood. There are stretches of woods that feel so similar to the ones I remember from years ago that it is almost deja vu to walk there.
What is it that I want? I want, in the midst of my working year, to find a way to have some of the sense of grace and balance I thought I lived with as a child. I want, in the midst of the working year, to find time to walk in the woods, smelling the warm smell of the forest floor. I want to have time to write, and to sit by a window in my new house and breathe in the toasty steam of a fresh cup of coffee while I read a novel. I want to have long conversations, punctuated by firelight and laughter, with Peter, and my daughter, and my friends.
I want to sink deep into worship on a regular basis. I want to watch the moon's face through the fog of my own breath on an icy starlit night, hand in hand with other Pagans in the snow. I want to fold my own laundry, wash my own dishes, keep up with my grading and my lesson planning, and maybe even bake a little bread once in a while.
I want to ride my bike to the library. I want to have a day off sometimes. And I want to be tired from working hard at the end of the day, but not so tired I can't think, or talk on the telephone, or feel the wind on my face now and then.
I want a sustainable life. I want my finances, my relationships, my workload, and my relationships with my gods to be in balance. I want ordinary (or is it extraordinary?) grace, daily sustainability.
Wish me luck.