Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parallel Universes, Past Lives, and Prior Posts


Today I was asked to talk to my daughter's first grade class about bears--black bears in particular. This led me to sift through my pictures of old field research projects and get all depressed and nostalgic about my "past life" as a carefree field biologist. It was a fun and rewarding life, but one that is by no means conducive to having three kids.


(Exhibit A. My oldest was two when I was still out hiking and sampling transects. One day she'd decided she'd had enough wandering around in the brush and was watching a movie in the truck. Along comes a car down our remote dirt road and my (vivid) imagination took hold and I became convinced it was some drunk coming to steal my baby from the pickup cab. I sprinted through the field, hurdling sagebrush so that I could get there before they did. Was I paranoid? Yeah, a bit. But you see what I mean. It was hard being out there. Either I was gone without the family a lot or they whined a lot about being drug around if they came with me.)

Sometimes I feel my heartstrings pulled in many directions. I want to be this, I want to do that... I have just too many interests and I want to make a difference, to add something to the world. If only I could live and experience parallel lives like in some science fiction book. Or clone myself but have the same brain so as to have all the memories from each experience. That would be so cool! Then I could be a good mom, a good writer, a good biologist, and anything and everything else I want to be. (Housekeeper? Ha! Yeah, right. It'll take an army of clones for that.)

But I'm just me.

And slowly I'm becoming okay with that. I can live each hour as it's given to me. In this moment I can kiss the top of my infant's head and cup her sweet smell to my face, knowing that the moment is fleeting, in need of savoring. Then the next moment I might get my turn to create a pygmy rabbit preserve, where habitat can be established in perpetuity. And then there's the moment I might get to write that killer novel that leaves a reader remembering why they love to read.

Each will come in their own time. I just need to be patient. And enjoy the time at hand. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. That's all that any of us can do.

I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Mothers. Writers. Teachers. Biologists. Naturalists. Engineers. (I included the last for you, Steve.) There are many unsung heroes who chip away at the ugliness every day to add a brushstroke of beauty to this ole world. Some fight the demons of guilt like I do, thinking they aren't producing enough. But we shouldn't. We really shouldn't. Charles Darwin said, "A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life". Those that feel the guilt value life. So savor that life. Roll that morsel around in your mouth awhile! Because that joy is put there for the taking and is a crucial point of our existence.

Um... This post was supposed to be about bears! Oops. Oh, well. I kind of got carried away with my self-indulgence. Sorry. But by all means disregard these musings and read an older, livelier post about bears! (Of course, that one has a philosophical edge too... dang it.)

12 comments:

  1. I try and remember that there are seasons. What I cannot do today, God may grant me in tomorrow. Maybe you'll return to your fields later and fill up pages of the places you'll go.

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  2. What a lovely post! Sometimes I think I'm very lucky I got married and had children early in life, before I was really into my writing, otherwise I might be too selfishly wrapped up in my own pursuits to take the time out to raise those precious little ones (not so little now - ages 10, 12, and 13). The good news is, they do get older and more self-sufficient and then we moms get more time to do the stuff we had to put off for so many years.

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  3. It's hard being torn!

    Once we become parents, we can't do it all. If you stayed full-time and spent your time doing research, your house and kids would suffer for it. If you stay home, you long for what you gave up. I wish we lived in a world that made it easier to keep our feet in two worlds. In the end, our years raising our kids are few in number.

    I think about that in my quest to get a full-time teaching job. When I have it, what about the house, the kids, time for writing? I'd better get that lucrative book deal soon.

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  4. "To add a brushstroke of beauty to this ole world." Beautiful sentiment, and so very many ways to do this. I have a sneaking suspicion that your passions, your "biologist," your "mom" and your "writer" personas all inform one another in a perfect way, at this time in your life, for just the right blend.

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  5. Oh, I love this post. Beautiful. Mothers are conflicted creatures, aren't they? It's just so tough to balance everything. It is important to remember that everything we do is important. All of it matters.

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  6. I think the rich diversity of your life is going to add so much to your novels. We can never do it all, but we can live fully with what we've got. It seems to me from reading this lovely post that you are doing just that.

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  7. I think that's one of the hardest things to learn and accept: That it's okay to just be you. :)

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  8. Wow, this is powerful. Thanks for the thought-inspiring post :)

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  9. Beautiful post--please, feel free to indulge yourself anytime. :)

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  10. What an inspiring post. Thank you for speaking from your heart. How lucky we are to have so many options!

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  11. Totally agree with you on all this -- being present, being patient is hard, but such a good way to live.

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