To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Year 2: Third Interlude

Hello, from 2014, again,

Dropping down to just one post a week was the right thing to do, though it still feels strange. It's not like I spent a lot of time writing that second post every week, only an hour or two, usually, but those two hours have really made a difference. I feel busy still, but saner.

You know, thinking about being busy, everyone I know from grad school is horribly busy (or unemployed, or both). I think we all got busy in order to get our homework done on time in school or something, and we haven't gotten around to getting un-busy. Like,we're just waiting for there to be less to do. But that's never going to happen. We could be horribly busy for the rest of our lives, if we let ourselves be.

And most of us probably will, I think. It's seductive, busy-ness. There are a lot of things you don't have to think about, when you're busy. And you get to feel so bizarrely virtuous about it. I think, sometimes, of the words of one of the prayers Charlie used to say, I think he got it from AA, asking God to relieve me of the bondage of self that I might better do thy will. And I wonder if that's what some of my friends are doing, giving their wills and their lives over to their careers...I wonder if that's what I'm doing.

Right now, I'm writing this outside in my flower garden with my daughter asleep on my lap and every few minutes I can hear the hummingbirds buzz behind us to get to my columbine patch. Life is good. Life is very good. I don't want to ever be too busy to do this.

And when she wakes up she's going to want to explore the garden. She's going to want to ask me the name of every single plant in the garden and then every blade of grass, every leaf, in the yard. Fortunately, I know all the names. Charlie prepared me oddly well to have a sixteen-month-old. And we'll look for salamanders and worms and I'll try to keep her from touching any of them. And then we will have dinner and I will try to feed her even though she's in this phase now where she'd much rather feed me. I don't want to be too busy for any of this, ever.

When I was on campus, at the school, I mean, not grad school, I almost never felt busy, even though I was actually doing a lot more than I am now. Part of it was simply that my life was very structured, so it was easier to move from one task to another. But part of it was that all the things I was doing added up to a whole life. There was both intellectual and athletic activity, there were always friends around when I wanted to hang out, it was just a full life. I was never too busy to do anything I really wanted to do, because I was already doing all the things I really wanted to do. I'm sure the masters did that on purpose, structuring the school so it would be like that.

I used to ask them, sometimes, what a master was, especially when I was working to become one. I asked more than once because I got more than one answer--from each of them. But one of my favorite answers was when Allen told me that "a master is a whole human being."

Am I a whole human now? I certainly have been; I wear the green ring for a reason. But am I one now? I think at this moment, in the garden with the hummingbirds and my daughter, I am. I am thinking about what I'll be in the next moment, though, and the next moment after that, and all the moments after that as she grows up so I can be a whole human being.

It's Father's Day today. Last year I wished my Dad Happy Father's Day and he wished me the same thing and I about fell over. This year I'm more used to me being the Dad. My wife went off somewhere and left me with Carly all day as a Father's Day present, which is, curiously, the same thing that we did on Mother's Day. Everyone had told me that I should give her a day away from the baby, buy her a trip to a salon or a spa or something, so I did that, except my wife isn't exactly the spa or salon type, so I sent her birding. She enjoyed it.

But for Father's Day this is what I wanted. To fallow this little bundle of energy and questions around all day, without interruption or other responsibility, so when a female hummingbird tried to pick a fight with her (that's what hummingbirds do; they're ridiculously aggressive little creatures) I could be there with my daughter to tell her what it's called.

"Hum!" she repeated. "Humba!"

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