Here we are again, caricatures of our own seasonal habitualness.
I’m blindsided by the flared-up beauty of fall. Rose announces she’s not so hungry for dinner while peach and plum pits are confettied around the house, in her hair. Col’s been gleefully shooting frost-killed tomatoes with his BB gun. And Dan is drying various things in the October sun: peaches, pears, deer jerky, elk hooves.
The trees are trying on every possible state of autumness: from still green to psychedelic to stripped bare. Everything is so insanely beautiful and in flux right now – I need to ditch work and sit under our cottonwood tree for the next week.
The children pulse on. Col stumbled into my room late one night while Dan was away hunting. I offered up my little nighttime prayer, which goes something like: If I must be woken up, please let the issue be clear and solvable.
Col said in his smallest voice, “I’m feeling a little nervous about all the interests I’ve given up.”
“You mean like airplanes?” I asked.
“Yes,” he sniffled, burrowing his head into my chest. “And I used to be really into archery.”
“Right. And before that, rocks. And before rocks, trains.” Images of our former preschool schedule in which we’d haunt the train station like groupies came rushing back to me.
Col nestled into me, teary and nostalgic for all the versions of himself that had already come and gone, the naming of each bringing on fresh waves of sadness. We snuggled; Col has an amazingly efficient way of absorbing physical affection, metabolizing it into something useful. At midnight, I made him some crackers and peanut butter, his small body like a hopeful buoy floating at the big ocean of our table.
The first thing Rose told me when I picked her up from shared school yesterday was that she felt jealous because her friend just got new shoes and pants. And I may have been a little overzealous. “Jealousy? We can work with that!” I told her.
We’re still a little fuzzy on fractions, but we’re really comfortable with feelings. We’ve learned that they blow in like an extreme weather event, rumbling around colonizing your mind and body, then vanish. It helps to give those feelings space, to not crowd them with solutions, judgments, diagnosis or reassurance.
It helps to lavish understanding upon painful feelings. “I can understand how new clothes are so fun and exciting. It’s hard to see your friends get things you want.”
We spent the whole half-mile walk home allowing and caring for the jealousy, and by the time we hit the trampoline in the front yard, the storm had completely blown out.
I’m certain that both children will learn their fractions, at least enough to triple a cupcake recipe someday, and I’m endlessly grateful that they’re developing a vocabulary of feelings now.
If they can articulate emotions of jealousy and nervousness, they can observe how acknowledging and allowing these emotions is the balm that helps them naturally transform.
On my own hunting trip last week, I watched a parade of feelings tromp through my mind in this order: enthusiasm, nervousness, absorption, excitement, confusion, disappointment, fatigue, frustration, ambivalence, engagement, awe, pride, gratitude. This was all within one morning.
I thought of the Rumi poem “Guest House,” in which the poet advises us that:
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.”
Yesterday, Col spent the afternoon zooming a balsa wood airplane around the house. I smiled watching him, knowing that as the law of entropy states, nothing is ever lost, just transformed.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.