I did nothing of any measurable value this year.
Having recently quit my contract job, I was perfectly poised for a endemic lockdown. Mostly, I became one with my couch, learning to knit while miles and miles of cashmere, wool, and cotton ran through my fingers, the needles clicking softly. Bread was baked, lessons were taught alongside my youngest child. History, geography, fractions, parts of speech all tumbled through our brains and onto workbook pages. I watched from the sidelines and my girls set up house, coming together in a newly healed way. My oldest son loved on his girlfriend, I felt pride at raising a man another woman will not have to recover from. My husband rose in the ranks at work, growing more into himself and his manhood. I stayed quiet, a spectator watching life come apart and be rebuilt in a graceful dance.
People argued on the television all summer, worried over toilet paper quantities. We washed our hands a lot, spent lazy afternoons in a plastic blow up pool. We left behind everything in our old home, sending remnants of old lives along with my daughters in a moving van. The new was welcomed, metallic furniture with linear lines that better held who my husband and I are becoming. I moved into each day with gratitude and no expectations taking care of what was in front of me and little else.
Fall came, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces. There were celebration dinners, a road trip where my husband and I dashed naked and laughing to and from a tiny hot tub. We found each other in a new way, dove even more deeply into marriage. I watched my lover fall apart when his son was taken 1300 miles away, held him when he woke up screaming his child’s name, marveled at his strength when he rose from those ashes and at the fire and fight inside him. I witnessed pain and breaking apart all around me. This division and separation lived both at home and on the television, the trauma our walls within reflected in the collective. I watched, a bird on a wire, and said little. Falling apart can also be a coming together.
And, I waited. After a decade of producing, creating, chasing, losing, winning, and always, always doing, I was still. It came almost as a commandment. Be still, Sarah. Be still and know. Be the watcher. See what you’re missing. The way rain rolls down a window, the feel and puppy smell of my smallest child warm in bed next to me on a Tuesday morning, the sound of my youngest boys engaged in a monumental Lego build. Lazy Sundays and breakfast in bed. Warm syrup and church on television. The feel of a Good Word and hand knit socks.
I came back home to myself, found joy in the lines and scars, the roundness of my body, the wisdom of laugh lines. I remembered my Grammy and the way her simple life full of nothing but these kinds of days touched hundreds of people. Maybe this is enough. Maybe it is enough to bake cookies and delicious stews and to create a home that welcomes everyone that crosses the threshold. Maybe I am enough without being on stages, writing books, following what the ego wants. If the people I love living lives both simple and outrageous are perfect in their imperfection, then each of us is also gloriously and deliciously Enough.
The blessing of stillness is it allows us to receive. When we stop producing, we reap what we have sown. Doing nothing allowed me to marinate in all my work, and see that it was good. Then, the tangible gifts began to arrive. I saw that everything I needed arrived wrapped in tinsel before I even had awareness of needing it. How is this possible that we can receive so much when doing so little? Presents come with presence, this I now know.
In our lives, we often feel as if we must keep moving. Making and doing is prized. Not doing is laziness, sloth, a deadly sin. But what if the sin lies in being too busy to notice the majesty of creation or take stock of what we built? This was a hard, horrible year for so many. It was also a year of blessings, of coming together and tearing apart and remembering the things that truly matter. It was up to each of us to choose. Through this year, I chose to drift along, paying joyful attention.
In an entire year of doing absolutely nothing, I simply found everything.
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