Sunday, September 23, 2012

must there be a lesson?

Last week I rearended another car. We were stop start stop start in front of our school gate and the traffic started, I took my foot off the brake, Claire said something in the back seat, I turned my head to look at her, and crunch. The SUV I hit had a spare tire that neatly crunched my hood. Every time I look at the hood, it seems worse. Amazingly crunchy, those hoods. A friend explained hoods are made to crunch easily so the entire hood can't crash through the windshield into the driver and front passenger. Makes sense. So my hood is crunchy, and my front plastic grill might be a little damaged, one headlight is crooked but not broken.

What I immediately thought about after the crunch was all the paperwork that must be involved in having an accident here. I was shaking and embarassed because it happened at school and now everyone would think I am a careless driver or a crier (I am a crier, it helps) and I was really really worried about the mess of paperwork that would come my way because this life is laden with paperwork.

And then someone told me that the lesson in this is to be careful.

I am careful and I made a mistake that morning and that is that. Being told that the lesson in my rearending another vehicle at a wildly low speed is to be careful made me bristle. Not so much because it isn't true - I do need to be careful when I drive - or because I already know that I need to be careful or because I am usually very careful.

(Usually always has an exception. Exhibit: rearending another vehicle).

What made me bristle is this: I look for lessons in way too many interactions and events and thoughts and readings and days and weeks and months and years. I look for lessons in why a relationship went bad and why I feel terrible or why my kid is having a fit. Am I supposed to learn compassion or contentment or gentleness in this moment? I do this look for the lesson all the time and when I hit that car and someone said the lesson was I need to be more careful, I thought: No. I am already careful. The lesson isn't that. And you know what else? I don't feel like looking for a lesson in this. I'm tired of breaking my life into lessons geared toward building my character or finding God in any given situation or understanding why. Many times I want to know what the lesson is so it can be done: like, check, I've learned that. Next.

Sometimes things happen and I don't why. I don't know how it works out or what I'm supposed to learn or how I grow through a situation. And I am more okay with that than I was before I rearended that car and someone said there was a lesson in it. There is a lesson it! And I don't want to spend time overthinking what it may be, though I'm wondering if that - Quit demanding to know the lesson you're in the middle of learning! - might be part of it. Maybe I don't need a name for each of my lessons. Maybe I can have a day a week a month a year that sees me grow in faith and character without calling out each chapter as a Lesson.

That sounds lovely.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

current events

You know what I'm talking about.

And here is a Kuwait Times piece with responses to the protests. From the article:
... MP Aseel Al-Awadhi said that “overreaction is an indication of a serious lack of self confidence and weakening strength of religious commitment”, adding that “my faith isn’t affected by a cartoonist, writer or a director”. She also indicated that “the ideal way to defend the Prophet (PBUH) is by following his ethics, not through heated speech and certainly not through killing innocent people”.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

kip litton article

My dad sent me a link to "Marathon Man" by Mark Singer. It's an article about a Michigan dentist named Kip Litton who managed to turn in great marathon times by cheating the routes. Wow. That isn't an impressed wow. It's a baffled not-sure-why-he-did-that wow. How much energy does it take to plan a cut and reentry on a route? And if Kip was able to do that, then why mess up the ruse with different shirts or shoes or hats in the race route photos? He was a legitamate marathon finisher before deciding to cheat. Why start making up races and cheating to cut his times?

Near the end of the article, I began thinking about lies that get bigger and bigger and bigger and kept waiting for some confessional relief. Like, spill it, Litton.

The piece is well-written. It's running + mystery + human condition. With a little snarkiness and a tiny bit of compassion.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

staying put & starting school

Claire told one of her friends that we were moving to another country and that she would have to make new friends in her new country. When she wakes up from her nap, we'll go talk to that friend and explain: we aren't going anywhere.

I think she hears us talk about people who have moved or we talk with her about where her old friends live now and look on the map: there's Canada and Washington and Oregon and Suadi Arabia and India and Qatar. She hears the talk about moving and living in a new country and she hears me tell her that her old friends are making new friends and perhaps she wants a part of that.

Justin and me too. Sometimes we want a part of that. We're content in Kuwait but the other night we spent an hour looking at schools in South America. We aren't moving this year, but we think about it. We aren't sure when it will feel right and we're both waiting for it to feel right, to know that moving would be good for us. Right now, staying in Kuwait is good for us.

We've all started school. This is a big year in our home. Claire began kindergarten and Grant attends a Montessori preschool two mornings a week. I am waiting a few weeks to see how this really works. Right now, Claire is tired in the afternoons and doesn't like the school clothes because you can't wear a pink tutu with the required blue and white uniforms. I've heard her say in a loud voice, "Good morning, boys and girls" and am waiting for her to learn her classmates' names so I can get a greater glimpse into her days. Today was Grant's second day at his preschool and despite talking it up all weekend, he was not happy when we arrived. I stayed with him for awhile but he cried when I left. I picked him up early and he was glad to see me.

Sometimes I think: how am I supposed to feel about this? I can't really decide. Change is big and difficult and I think we all get to wait a few weeks to see what school is like for Claire and what preschool is like for Grant.

This is one of many parts of my kids' lives that I will know only in part. A teacher here told me that is a kind of grief, to realize that. And when Claire started kindergarten this year, Justin and I talked about this and how her mornings away meant that our time together as a family was that much more valuable. Not in an overstructured way, but just to remember: Enjoy Each Other.