Hamilton lodged so many tangles in my head that it’s going to take a long time for me to sort them all out. This one I’ve been tugging on since the day after…
I thought it was about dying. Well, about not-dying.
A. Ham spends a great deal of energy pushing against his (understandable) assumption that he would be dead by the time he was twenty, and that any additional time was stolen. After choosing suicide when I was seventeen, and then surviving, I identify with the awareness that time is not guaranteed. Though it hasn’t given me his same work ethic-! But I see that’s not quite it.
True, after living I had far less patience with other people’s expectations for me, or with denying my feelings, opinions and experiences when they were inconvenient. Or for others’ denials. The easy conclusion was that I don’t have time to burn on that kind of thing anymore.
But when I look across my life again, I notice there’s a tie to another clarifying milestone: the birth of my daughters, about ten years later.
So it’s not the recognition of stolen time. It’s that not-dying, like the birth of a child, becomes a sieve for later experiences.
I shake the contents of my day and think: if I wasn’t here, would I come back for this? / If I am choosing between this and time with my child, am I satisfied with the bargain? Those questions make a pretty coarse-grained sieve, I find–not a lot stays behind.
What stays on top of the mesh as I sift my days?
I “come back” for showing up flawed, even calling attention to it in case others haven’t recognized that flawed is Something That Can Be Done In Public. Being wholly myself I find worth doing, whether anyone notices or not.
I chose sharing my babies with others so I could routinely interact with adults (otherwise known as working for hire and graduate school). Satisfactory for everyone: “happy wife, happy life,” as a friend of mine says. But when a workplace made me angry every week for months? I moved on. That’s not a bargain I’m making.
Being alive and mindful: a sieve for days.
Since as I live I am always trading time for experiences, I will always ask: is this a good trade?
This? Yes. Right now this little writing is wide enough to sit right on top.