I had an interesting insight earlier this month, a small one — I could have missed it had I blinked. Most Tuesday mornings from 10-12 I join several other women to drink coffee and to read and talk about … well, about everything. We don’t all make it there every Tuesday, and we don’t always study what we’re supposed to be studying, but as I look back at the two years I’ve been doing this, I can see it’s become a sustaining practice.
One of the readings we’ve shared is Joan Chittister’s The Monastic Way, which is a monthly pamphlet with daily inspirations on a given topic. In July it was “Celebration,” which felt especially relevant as my family gathered to celebrate my niece’s life. Earlier this year, the topic was “Home,” and as my name means house or home in Hebrew, that felt directed straight at me.
In August the topic was “Discipline,” but I misplaced my pamphlet and when Carolynne offered to photocopy hers for me, we both immediately got distracted and forgot. “Discipline,” I remember thinking. “I really need that right now. Maybe it would help….” But then (and here was my flash of insight) I thought, “No. What you need is to give yourself a break.” And then the thought was gone. I went immediately back to fussing and fuming about not getting enough writing done.
It turns out that discipline — at least of the writing kind — has not been what I needed this month. What I needed was to let go of my big goals, to forgive myself for not getting my work done, and concentrate on my family.
It is what it is. (For that matter, if you’re trying to rock that baby and you can’t relax into it, you might try waking your husband to take over. Or call your mother, or a friend. Take a break! When you come back, you’ll do better.)