Slow Learning

I am having a hard time learning to be slow. To wait for what shows up. To think that if I haven’t arrived already: my time has passed.

That word: arrival.

I know there isn’t one moment of arrival. And arriving at the big time: a billion clicks: that’s only one kind of arrival.

Every day there are so many arrivals. I mean the moments when you think yes, my life is gorgeous. Like when I mixed the brownie batter and then ate a nice dollop of batter. The batter was crunchy with sugar and mysterious chemicals. Yum. An arrival moment.

Yet I read a poem that I like about seasons and how not every season is harvest season and then I read who wrote it. And I think, oh, this woman has arrived big time. I mean, she wrote a book called “Playing Big.” I’ve sold it to people at my bookstore job.

I want the promise that seems inherent in reading a book called “Playing Big.” Like then I’ll post about my new class once on Facebook and ten people will sign up for it in ten minutes. While I know that I instead need to figure out how to promote it. If no one signs up, that doesn’t mean I’m doomed. It means I get to go out there and market some more, so people show up on a Wednesday night in early March.

But I already want to have ARRIVED. While deep down I know that my ship has already come in a billion times. Like when I took the train by myself from Minnesota to Seattle at age 24. With one suitcase and the idea that I could move here while knowing nothing about Seattle. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even looked at a map. I knew there was water. I didn’t know the city was situated on Puget Sound or how far the ocean was from the city. I knew I had a free place to live. I knew some friends were moving out. I did not know the mountains were so close.

Right before the train pulled up to the station, a woman said to me, “Do you think this is Seattle?”

“Nah, it’s too beautiful,” I said.

Then the conductor said, “We are arriving in Seattle.”

Oh my God: my ship had come in. I had arrived somewhere beautiful with a full suitcase and enough energy to apply at every publishing house until I found a job.

Yet I think I haven’t made it BIG yet.

Ah, ancient brain, I must rewire your circuits. Here I am, more than twenty years later, writing for pay, teaching writing, working at a bookstore, living with my lovely husband, teenagers and dog in beautiful Seattle. I may still be figuring out how to get where I want to go next but making it well enough through each day is probably good enough. With my small moments of arrival happening all the time.

I’m trying to breath those in. To really appreciate the way the aquamarine door on the neighbor’s white house looks against the backdrop of white snow below a half white-half blue sky. While the scent of brownies fills the house and the heat kicks on. I am arriving all the time. I’m here for the time being, trying to relish as much as I can. I’m playing big by heeding the beauty of the moments while slowing working toward what’s next.


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