An Island

Just three days in preschool was long enough for the girls to come down with runny noses.

Unbelievable right? They have been totally healthy for four months, not a sniffle, not a one. Then three short days with a group of kids and the snotty noses are back. It’s not even cold season.

Corona Rules state that kids have to stay home if they have symptoms of absolutely anything, runny noses included. They will absolutely reject them at the door or call the parents and ask them to collect their children if signs of sickness appear. So here we are at home again.

I’m in favor of these rules, but it makes me wonder, who had the runny nose then? Where did they pick it up? If there are only healthy kids at school, who can I blame? I need someone to blame, obviously. That makes everything in life easier.

I see now that we had really hit our stride after so much time in quarantine. Each parental unit getting the time they needed each day in an intricately woven pattern that allowed us all to kind of support each other, lift each other up, find the joy in the little things and take care of ourselves at the same time.

In the three days the girls were back in school, we had not yet hit any kind of stride. As I mentioned before I had big plans not just for riding the next wave but for getting in the driver’s seat and navigating. Taking the curves, downshifting when necessary, accelerating when possible—swift, dexterous, deft. Doesn’t that sound nice?

It’s interesting how even a small change throws a kink in the plans. Funny how you suddenly feel unable to hit your mark, find your rhythm, or get on the count as a result of what amounts to just a little stick in the road. Can the absence of my little ladies during the day actually make me less productive instead of more productive? Is it possible that I thrive when they are around?

I have spent most of my life believing that I am an island. If at any point I wasn’t effectively an island, if I allowed people to interfere too intensely with me, then I worked toward becoming a better island. This started when I was relatively young and it goes on today.

I have built a narrative that says love is not something that really has its hooks in me. That family or not, what’s best is to be fully independent–Not to expect anything from anyone, not to need anything from anyone.

While aspects of that remain, it has dawned on me in the past week that no matter how independent we believe ourselves to be–we are anchored to and by those around us. The people in our lives have a great influence on our experience, on our understanding of the world, on our motivations, on our ability to achieve and to be our best selves.

Even our interactions with strangers mold us. Everyone we come in contact with takes part in the softening or hardening our edges. In shifts, sometimes tiny and sometimes seismic, they help to draw the paths of our journeys. It turns out that a healthy independence doesn’t make it so that we don’t need relationships, it actually makes it so that we can give a lot more to a relationship. We can be more empathetic, we can love better, deeper, more genuinely with less fear.

I think it’s about time that I let go of this island narrative and accept the reality of human relationships.

It might be time to just let the bonds grow and develop into the old wood where the flowers bloom. Some of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers only bloom on old wood. Wisteria, lilac, witch hazels, forsythias– if you cut off their stems, you won’t see any blossoms next year.

I am a rock, but it turns out I am not an island at all.

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