I’ve been a little ridiculous. I tell my kid all the time that his job is to be 8 and enjoy his life. It’s this spell we say, over and over. What’s your job? TO BE WHATEVER AGE I AM AND ENJOY MY LIFE.
It’s such good advice, I can’t really explain why I’ve been ignoring it. Why I’ve been rushing around, the spectacular headless chicken, so invested in getting shit done that I keep forgetting to sit down with a nice beverage and read some books. I keep forgetting that books can upset me in that useful way (as opposed to the news, which upsets me unnecessarily). Books wheedle and kick and purr and soothe. They are important work, like thinking. They are vital work, like laughing.
What have I been in such a rush to do, anyway? I was in Missoula, in a mineral pool, explaining cannonballs to the kid. How does he not know about cannonballs? Because you’re so rarely allowed to do them now. The danger of springing from the edge and tucking into yourself. CANNONBALL!
Leap, tuck. Leap, tuck. Remember to breathe, Jill Malone. Remember to shake hands and ask the other person for his name. Remember, in your excitement, in your hustle, that the world is particularly beautiful when you’re still. That the water feels sudden and miraculous each time you climb from it and leap back in.
I kept thinking I had things to get done, a list to work through, before I could relax. But that is just madness. This is your life. The way the silver key sits at her suprasternal notch. The way the dog bays her welcome and rushes at you like the distance is nothing. The way the kid brings you his creations. “Look at this one! Look at this!”
You won’t remember the year you painted the bathroom. The month you finally got the screen door up. This — all this is yours to wonder at — yours to enjoy. The middle of your life in every direction.