Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Hole in the Middle

Things tend to converge in my mind when I’m thinking hard about something and two things have crashed together in my brainspace recently.


The first, a camp song, came up because we’re helping Little A. learn to identify coins. I’ve been singing “The Donut Song” to him. Here it goes:

I walked around the corner
And I walked around the block
And I walked right in to a donut shop
I picked up a donut, fresh from the grease
And I handed the lady a five-cent piece.

Well, she looked at the nickel
And she looked at me and
She said, “This nickel is no good for me.
There’s a hole in the middle and it goes right through.”

I said, “There’s a hole in the donut, too!”

You can see why this is helpful with identifying our crazy US coins—it has “five-cent piece” and “nickel” right there. But I know what you’re really dying to know…What has this song converged with in my mind?

It converged with my feminine mid-life crisis.

According to Oprah, women tend to be pleasers and in their forties, they learn to let go of that. Okay, maybe I condensed her twenty years on TV a little, but that’s the gist of it, right?

I don’t know about anyone else, but here’s the deal with me. I can see patterns pretty well, I read people pretty well, and I’m good with breaking things down into beginning, middle, and end. Therefore I can organize things. Generally, I can organize people to be productive. I can do that. I CAN. And that’s a valued skill in our world.

I’ve done a lot of things against my nature over the years—things I had no talent for, things I learned superficial skills to manage, things that frightened me, things that sucked the life out of me. I can do those. I CAN. And so I’ve done a few things I’ve been praised for over the years.

I’ve learned to identify, assess, and prioritize other people’s needs over my own. I’m pretty empathetic, so I can do that. I CAN. And it’s easy to think that’s why I have friends and a family.

I, in and of myself, feel nothing from those things that I can do. Well, except for the general societal approval they generate. But that’s nothing, right? I mean, who needs your teachers and peers and family and social media to give you the big thumbs up?

I’m not complaining or being mean or shifting responsibility. I have huge affection for my teachers and my friends; I love my family. It’s just that I’m like that dang donut—or the nickel. Or the donut. Either way, there’s a hole in my middle and it goes right through.

As I’m finally getting to know myself and finally starting to hear my own voice, buried deep inside, I’m realizing I’ve built up a lot of things I CAN do in a big circle all around me, all around the giant hole where what I want to do lies.

That sounds childish, doesn’t it? What I WANT to do. How about these: what I was born to do, what I dream of doing, what I have a natural talent for, what gives me energy, what creates flow for me, what makes me feel alive, what helps me be a stronger, kinder, better, happier person? Still childish? I’m not so sure now.

I’m only beginning this process. I know this blog has been a lifeline, something I want to do, even when I have more productive things I CAN be doing. Something that I feel I have a knack for, something that energizes me.

I know I want to write. I know I want what goes with that—periods of absorbing life around me, observing nature, people, society, my own existence. Time alone, to think uninterrupted thoughts. I know I like to make things, beautiful things, to work on our house and sew for my children. I know I love helping people, in my own small, quiet way. I know I love the people in my life. I know I love being outside, travel, beauty, learning. Running and sailing. I know I've always wanted to save the world a little.

But how will you earn a living? What about your kids? Don’t they have to get to the bus and do their homework and don’t they need dinner? What about? What about? 

Oh—and aren’t those kind of oddball things to do? Being alone? Sewing? Who does that anymore? Well, unless you put it on Pinterest.

I hear you, little head voices. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I feel a strong need to find them. Because, right now, this nickel is no good for me.


As I write this, I’m fueling the fires of my rebellion by listening to Sir Ken Robinson’s second TedTalk. 

Not only is Sir Ken HYSTERICAL, he also says genius things like this, “You know, to me, human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability.” Or this, after a beautiful Yeats quote, “And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.

Listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s second TedTalk here:

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