Kai at about 10 months old. It is the first time he really felt the breeze on his face. I remember watching this happen and thinking, “Yep, I know that feeling!” Sheer delight!
I call living at my mom’s “camping.” I say this jokingly, knowing that we are certainly more comfortable than we would be in a tent. And, having travelled and lived in third world countries, I know that most of the earth’s population lives happily with far less.
But we are living in a house that does not have air conditioning, or at least not the full-house variety. In South Florida.
The notion of living with less-than-modern conveniences shocks people. It’s funny to watch the look on the faces of some of those who come.
We have window shakers in the bedrooms, but there really is no way to effectively cool the common areas of the home.
Except for the breeze, that is.
The lack of A/C means the house is open, and, we are truly living the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.
We are not closed inside, keeping the natural elements at bay, controlling our environment. Instead, we are a part of it. We respond and adapt to it.
And it feels good.
Karl mocked me about the mystical, mythical breeze before we moved in, but now, he recognizes its power.
I spend so much time lost in my head, planning tomorrow rather than being present in the moment. The breeze makes me stop. I close my eyes and feel the coolness on my skin. I lift my chin, tilt my head back, and smile. It is hard to worry and fret about tomorrow when I am fully present in my body, engaged in the now. The breeze brings me into the moment.
When we first moved in, I decided that if we were “camping,” we would do without media. No cable. No internet. Karl and I had our phones, but we put them down until Kai went to bed, and even then, we used them minimally.
It changed our family’s life. We went outside, listened to music, snuggled by the fire, and just hung out. And, even though we now are “connected,” we try to head out back as often as possible.
And one of the things I’ve encouraged Kai to do is to walk the seawall.
The first time I suggested it, he looked at me and said, “Are you kidding me? You are seriously suggesting that I walk on that? Are you trying to kill me?”
I told him that it was four inches wide, the same as a balance beam in gymnastics, and that he was right. He needed to think and be cautious, but that his fear shouldn’t stop him. He looked at me incredulously.
I said, “Look, as your mom, I’m terrified. But, I remember what it was like to be a kid here. I walked that wall every day. And, I loved it. I gained more and more confidence and eventually I could run and jump.”
I told him he would be wise to walk it at high tide to begin with because if he fell at low tide, the oysters would cut him up badly. And, I told him that if he started to lose his balance, he needed to bend his knees, lower his center of gravity, and launch himself into the grass instead of letting himself fall into the water. He still thought I couldn’t possibly be serious.
Then, I told him that it was true that all of those things could happen, but that in all the years I had lived in the house and walked the wall, I had never fallen. Not once. I was smart about it, and I knew he would be, too.
I’m proud to say he walks the wall most days now as part of his “ninja training.”
Back to the breeze.. . it blows dirt and grit into the house. It is impossible to keep it pristine. Nature is just too powerful.
So, I have a choice–resist or accept.
I’ve decided that there is going to be grit on the floor; whether we mop daily or not, there is going to be grit on the floor. This life is a bit wild, unwilling to be tamed. There is no perfection here. Instead, there is joy and love and adventure and freedom.
When it came time to paint the inside walls and baseboards, Kai and his buddy Ian got to participate. Did they do a less than perfect job? Of course! But who cares? What really matters is that they got to be a part of it. Regrettably, I couldn’t have allowed that before.
And, what has been most gratifying about our new life here is that our friends come to be with us. Despite the disarray and distress, they come and play with us in our house by the lake, willing to share in this unorthodox journey we have decided to take. It’s definitely a take-us-as-we-are kind of venue, and we are most grateful for our tribe!
I don’t know how long we will be here, but I know this is where we are supposed to be for now, in our “incubator.”
Birth is messy, but so are some of the best things in life. Like babies. And food. And sex. And love.
So, there is value in the mess. And, there is a cost to sanitization. Freedom.
“Sanity” and “sanitize” share the same root, the Latin sanus meaning “sound, healthy.” I find that ironic considering the insanity with which we try to sanitize our lives, both literally and figuratively.
I’m tired of making the “sane” choice. I’m working on de-sanitizing my life, knowing the muck provides fertile soil.