The Final Rumpus

My 15 year-old son shared with me the disheartening news.

“Dad, the author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ died today.”

You’re kidding me, I thought.

Maurice Sendak died today (Tuesday, May 8th) at age 83. Read the NY Times article here.

The second blog post I wrote for Lifesummit in 2009 paid a brief tribute to one of my all-time favorite short stories and Sendak’s most famous work, and a bit of—ahem—emotions I bore while watching the movie at a theater with two of my children. You can laugh at me all you want here for the October, 2009, post: “Let the wild rumpus start!” Just a word of caution though—it might awaken your wild side.

Haiku Siesta

I’m out of breath from January. The first part of 2010 has been a blur so far. I’m already behind on everything. Can you relate?

I’ve lots to get done—taxes, legal work from our car accident (that happened over 19 months ago), new projects at my day job, projects for my side job, a new semester and loads of homework for three kids, youth sports, plans to get out of renting and hopefully buy a house, a 3-day writers conference in February followed by a wedding to attend in Seattle. Okay, so that’s Q1 of 2010…I haven’t even made it to the rest of the year.

How do we move from surviving to thriving? I’ve read plenty of books and helpful articles on time management, or “7 steps to organizing your life,” etc.; all novel ideas with a few practical tips that may stick—for a week or two. Just when you build a routine, the tyranny of the urgent re-awakens, heaving back its control and wreaking havoc on your organized life. Another few months go by, and you wake up on a Saturday morning wondering, what in the world happened?

I’ve slacked a bit in the midst of the bustle; the few blog entries for this month show that. And then I start beating myself because blogging becomes one more unchecked box on the to-do list, yet writing is what I love.

Enter a voice I know all too well. See Brock, life is just too difficult…you can’t come through…you can’t finish. Its name is Doubt.

When my life feels out-of-control (quite often, I admit), I have a choice…we all have a choice. I can choose to grump and gripe around our home, feel sorry for myself because life is unfair and hard, and make everyone else (typically Sarah and the kids) pay full price for my misery—all of which are usually my first reaction—or, I can take a stand.

That taking a stand part looks different for each person, but for me, it usually involves getting alone as a first-step. And I don’t mean getting alone to sleep all weekend, or tuning out my family to veg in front of the TV. But it might mean a morning of fly-fishing when the weather permits, or a short hike on a nearby trail.

But it also may involve getting alone to read something that speaks to my soul; challenges my heart. And it usually involves writing, mostly in my journal, where the pages are free of editing and literary constraints.

For an outgoing person who has become slightly more introverted over the years, these quiet times have become a source of strength and renewal when I’m at odds with the world.

Today, I needed just that—a quiet time. Here’s what that looked like for me.

I read a few chapters of Walking with God by John Eldredge. It’s a series of stories from Eldredge’s life and what it looks like to walk with God. There’s also a personal guide filled with thought-provoking questions to ask yourself with each chapter. I find it interesting that what walking with God looks like to Eldredge is pretty much on par with what it looks like in my own life—often difficult and confusing at first, but clear and good after you keep trusting Him through each circumstance.

The next thing I did on our back patio was fire up a favorite pipe, followed by writing a short poem. Smoking a pipe is my equivalent to enjoying a hot cup of freshly ground whole bean coffee; over a good read, it’s even finer. My poetry style for today? Haiku.

My mom turned me on to haiku poetry, and I can understand why she enjoys it. If I’m feeling too overwhelmed for intensive writing, haiku packs a huge punch in a tiny package. Haiku forces a break from the complex and overwhelming, and gives you a moment of clarity. Life slows down, and all that matters is the simple.

It might sound bizarre at first, but that’s only because we’re not accustomed to looking at life (and ourselves) through a zoomed-in slow-motion lens. We’re used to the busy, the frantic, the overwhelming.

I noticed this morning’s sunshine through tree limb shadows on a patch of dirt. It’s okay…you can laugh at the manly-man poet typing this, and I assure you, my pipe held only tobacco. (smile)

The beauty of haiku is time standing still and noticing what you normally wouldn’t. Here’s my haiku for that moment:

Sunshine Dirt

Through shadowy webs
of branches on earth’s canvas
sunshine on dirt.

A moment of restoration might look vastly different per individual. To some, my quiet time may seem foreign or even ridiculous. Doesn’t bother me at all…I know where my strength comes from.

What about you? What do you do for personal restoration? Do you do anything at all? Or do you choose to walk through life miserable, letting the world get the best of you, and never taking a moment to question it?

Maybe a little sunshine on our dirt is a reminder that our lives are not meant to be barren but meant to yield something fruitful. And growth only happens if we choose to plant the seed and add water.