I don't know how it happened, but I fell silent here at the blog, and before I knew it weeks had gone by. It kind of crept up on me, this feeling of staying quiet. And I decided not to fight it, to give in to it and see what happened. What happened was like what happens when you curl up on a raft on a sluggish river. You get carried downstream. I floated. And watched the scenery, both around me and inside me. Some of it was gorgeous. Some not.
So what happened? The easy description: Not Quite But Nearly Burn Out. Moms Clean Air Force headed into summer with an intense burst of activity around protecting strong mercury standards. And to all of you who pitched in, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me in such an important mission. Clean Air enthusiasts--mothers and others--won the latest round, fending off an effort to kill those mercury protections. But this is like the game of Wack-a-mole. Polluters will always pop up, scheming devilishly.
Moms Clean Air Force will be a year old in the end of August--a year since we launched our website, and got ourselves in gear. It has been a blast; I love this work. Our team is amazing; I learn from them every day. But like any start-up, it has been tough. There is so much at stake. Right now, we're asking our presidential candidates to give us their plan to slow global warming. Because, as Obama put it, Change is Here. However, it is climate change that is here.
And the writing: I said yes to every editor who had an idea, wanted an essay. I love writing. I love the freedom and fun of it, the fluid feeling of it. Writing feels like dancing. Or singing. Pure pleasure. And there's so much to write about. Annie Leonard's great new film, for instance! But I hadn't counted on carpal tunnel aggravations. Nor the anxiety of starting a new career: is it okay to rest?
Meantime, I put my house on the market. My own beloved Moonrise Kingdom. That was the first thing that started me adrift. This house--or more precisely, this specific bit of land and water on the coast of Rhode Island, on which I have been gazing for decades now--has moored me through so much of my adult life.
I can always change my mind. And I can always start a new home, one that is smaller and perhaps more suitable to my life now. Though this one is so easy to love...so easy to care for, so well made.
After all, I don't have two young boys with me every time I'm here, either. But this is the sort of change that is difficult for me to make. We'll see what happens. I can always decide to stay put. Once again, learning to give up thinking I can (and should) always control the outcome. This is an experiment in drift. I could end up on a new shore. I could just come aground, and turn home again. Either way, much to gain.
And then my mother fell. This actually gets to the heart of my quiet spell. She was at the Met Opera house in NYC, at the ballet. She was in the washroom, at the sink, when something happened, we don't know what. She may never remember. Someone jostled her? She fainted? (No sign of stroke.) She lost her balance? She fell. And hit her head so badly that she developed a subdural hematoma, bleeding on the brain. She passed out for quite a while. By chance, my son Theo and I were nearby; we were at the hospital when she was brought in from the ambulance on a stretcher. I immediately began babbling in French, to let her know we were there. She flickered to life, and then closed her eyes again.
The next few days were a nightmare of anxiety, until it became clear she was healing. She does not remember a thing about the fall, but is able to deliver a cogent critique of the ballet she saw. When she first came to, she took a hard look at me, as if from a great distance, noticed my new haircut (yes, I chopped it all off, somehow that's part of this too) and said, "Are you married yet?" As there is not even a remote chance of this having happened, I said "Of course not." She said, "Why aren't you married yet? And with that haircut. You look 30 times better. Why aren't you married?"
That is when I knew she would be fine. That was not, however, a relaxing exchange.
There is something about difficult mothers, no matter how much we love them, that makes many of us get all quiet inside from time to time. Something about the way that, no matter what we do, we will never quite live up to whatever it is they want us to do--because they didn't do it. And no matter how often we sort ourselves out from such mental disarray, we get tangled again, from time to time, and have to tease out the mental snarls.
Something had to give, and it couldn't be my work, so I became quiet here at Slow Love Life, the blog. But the slow love life has gone on; I've remembered my daily meditations and indeed, they've been healing, just as I always say they are. There have been many things I've wanted to share: the rabbits that stopped lolloping because it was just too hot--which means for once, it didn't beat me to the arugula...My favorite robin's nest... Two new sweethearts learning to kiss, or meeting the piano for the first time... Watching Theo practice Qigong.... Finding in a drawer the little creature that was one of Alex's favorite things when he was a child obsessed with hedgehogs... The gorgeous kale that is shooting up in Abby's garden, that I roasted and ate for dinner... The fabulous architecture of the Acanthus mollis, the cardoon, the teasels, coming up in my unfortunate garden...
I'm drifting (when I'm not pounding on against pollution) in continual awe of the beauty of this world, in fear of the havoc we are bequeathing our children, in sorrow of the limitations of difficult relationships, in joy at having work I love, in exhaustion of sore wrists, sore back, sore neck. Generally living life in my Moonrise Kingdom. May we have little ones and old ones in our lives, because we never stop learning from them--and may we all enjoy many more moonrises together.