Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Control Freak on a Tightrope

My husband stayed home from work today. I love my husband, truly I do. But today I needed the house to myself. I needed the inside of my brain uncluttered, without the rest of the world crowding in. I intended to exercise myself into a good, stinky sweat, then shower and settle down at the computer with a lovely pot of herb tea and write. I intended to ignore both phone and email, rebel against my incredibly annoying "to do" list and try to pull something profound out of my head. Ta da! In a week of appointments and work and children home on holiday, today was the one day that offered a clean slate and an empty house.

Sigh. Did I mention that I love my husband?

Did I also mention that I'm currently suffering from a temporary case of writer's block, seasoned with a dash of ongoing limbo and served up on a dish of winter that stubbornly refuses to give way to spring in quite the timeframe I had hoped? And there you have the crux of the matter, if I am to give way to perfect honesty. I have run smack against a bit of life I cannot control, and I find myself thoroughly cross with the situation.

It's a bit of a tightrope, this tension between control and delicious surprise. On one side of the wire, I plot my life hour by hour on a calendar, depend on my grocery app and keep a detailed "to do" list, sorted by priority and date. As backup, I refer to two white boards in my kitchen: one for those things I really, really need to remember in case I forget to look at my task list and the other for chores the children need to accomplish before any fun ensues. I assume the overflowing junk drawers (not one, but two) in the kitchen help to offset the rigidity of the white boards.

On the other side of the wire bubbles an insistent need to escape the list app, pull out of routine and allow myself the luxury of the unknown, the unplanned. Sometimes I long to hang on to the boat and ride the waves, ready to gasp in delight at the breathtaking view around the bend. I find that the best moments usually lurk outside of my orchestration. But to surrender to another conductor requires a trust that I find difficult to muster with any frequency. So I long for order and crave random and find myself attempting to balance between the two.

When Nick Wallenda crossed the Grand Canyon on a tightrope 1500 feet above the canyon floor, he held a 30-foot-long, 43-pound flexible pole in his hands. The heavy pole held his center of gravity toward the safety of the steel cable and kept him from leaning dangerously far in either direction.

And me? I have that husband (whom I love), four wonderful children (whom I also love), and a dog (which I tolerate). They require meals at regular intervals and rides according to schedule. We have a comfortable routine of morning prayer and bedtime hugs. And when the routine leans threateningly toward monotony, I can count on the unexpected to pull me back to center. The dog will vomit on the carpet just before company arrives. Snowmen will require building after a spring storm. Impromptu chats with a teenage son will last for hours. Calls for service will shatter my schedule. And sometimes, on a quiet winter day when I had other plans, my husband will stay home from work.


  1. This speaks to my soul. Who hasn't felt the yearning for the joy of discovery- pulling against the need for practical, everyday routine? For me it's a daily struggle. Someone has to be the hub of the wheel at home, yet the spontaneity of running away to find inspiration is vital to my spirit. To continue to pour water into other vessels, one has to refill, but the act of pouring requires one to be present. And around I go..

  2. You are an interesting and excellent writer, keep up the great work! Now for some good old fashion advice on marriage from a Mormon Jew: Marriage is very much like the physical body; you need to nourish it, get plenty of rest, pay attention to its signals of what needs attention etc make your husband your best friend. If you don't, someone else will!