Sunday night. My kids were in the bath and I was finishing up with what remained of toy pick up. They’d done most of it, but I was just putting the finishing touches on.
Wham! I just got hit with this strange sense of restlessness, this sudden internal crisis, and I needed to go. All weekend long I had felt in a funk and didn’t really do much with the kiddos, which I felt a little guilty about. Since school started, I’ve worked hard to fill the fading lovely days with all kinds of activities and quality time, but this weekend I just puttered out. So, we stayed in, we played a lot, we watched a movie or two, we colored, we ate. We did not grocery shop, we did not interact with others aside from a couple of routine outings, we did not do much of anything.
And here I was, gripped with this restlessness. Then, immediately on the heels of that, struck by that internal scolding voice. What on earth do you have any right to be bothered about? Life is good! Loving husband, wonderful children, a fantastic extended family, a great job, money to pay bills, a book about to be published, budding friendships all over the place, etc etc etc.
How dare I?!
How dare I, indeed. And yet, here I was. Bored, really. Fed up. Tired of the “Mama!” cries every other minute. Always in demand, always needed by someone. That part I’m used to, so I don’t know why, this particular night, it got to me. But it did. And in that moment, while my kids played beautifully in the bathtub, the kitten purred in her sleep on my bed, the husband worked away to provide for us–that very moment I wanted to go away. Not from them, not at all! Not from my life, not one bit! Just leave! I wanted an adventure, something different. Something new, something for myself.
But how does a grown up with a grown up job, a young family, responsibilities, goals–how does that person go on an adventure? I can’t. I don’t. But I can write, and this is precisely why I need to. I set aside my own restlessness, finished bathing the children, read them some books and put them to bed. And then I wrote. I finished one short story and began working my next novel out in my head. I lived vicariously through characters with impossible situations and improbable talents. I got lost in their conflict, forgetting my own internal one.
It’s a gift, allowing myself to write. Whether I’m talented or terrible, it’s a pretty beautiful experience to imagine stuff up and carve a path out of it. To create people and let them jump off the pages, evolving lives of their own, taking me places I didn’t know I was going when I sat down to write them. It’s the mystery, the beauty, the escape, the power of story.
And as for my own existential crisis, I have long ago learned to power through those more restless moments because I know the joyful ones are on the other side. It’s part of being a human. In moments such as last night, there really is no problem, so there is no solution other than to live it until I’m through it. And maybe, just maybe, I can think of a way to creatively send myself on my own adventure and indulge some sense of wonder in real life.
How about you? How do you keep things interesting? What adventures do you plan to embark upon?