Yesterday I was on my hands and knees scrubbing our new floors, and the line from Wild Geese kept running through my head and making me laugh; “You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles repenting.” No, I thought, you do not. And yet there I was scrubbing and sweating and on my knees. Surely Mary Oliver knew that sometimes bending to good hard labor is just another surprising way to “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Like I was telling you before, I also think a lot about the line from Marie Howe’s poem The Gate that says “This is what you have been waiting for.” It’s sort of a mantra for me at this point. I’m working on a novel and want it to be done; I’m living in our new home in Lebanon and thinking forward to our upcoming move to Turkey; Isla is blabbering away in squeals and gurgles and I’m waiting for words to form, and it dawned on me that I’ve also waited for everything in my life that is occurring at this very moment. I mean, some of it I definitely have not waited for, like the mental fray of trying to balance writing with making sure Isla doesn’t chew on the computer plug, or the hassle of trying to control the water heater so that the shower isn’t scalding or icy, but for the most part, this is what I’ve been waiting for. I have anticipated almost all of it, and even the parts that have been hard are so valuable in hindsight, and how sad it would be not to recognize that here I am, living a life that’s all I hoped for and more.