I even have a superstition that has grown on me
as the result of invisible hands
coming all the time..
Namely, that if you follow your bliss
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while,
waiting for you.
And the life that you ought to be living,
is the one you ARE living.
-joseph campbell

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Enough is Not Enough

Of course the days are busy enough. They usually fly by. And my body gives out well before my spirit. Usually my ears are the first to go. Sometime in the afternoon, I start to think my children are no longer speaking any form of English because the endless chattering is a dialect I can no longer understand. I have to turn all my concentration toward the voice and tune out everything else just to be able to discern a simple request for a glass of water.

It's true my ears grow weary by the end of the day. As does the rest of me, the body longs for just one long time out on the sofa with no need to get up and save a life or practice fire prevention or do my part to assist in post disaster clean up. But then I find a way to press on, carry children covered in paint to the tub, and then convince them that shampoo definitely needs to be rinsed out of their hair with clean water. And finally, as the water turns cold and the child shivers, I must convince her to come out, come with me, into the waiting warm towel and further, into the pajamas that really have to be more comfortable than fannies flying bare through the house.

My body aches by now. I started before daylight urging, convincing, compromising, instructing, carrying, changing, moving and directing little people who ran the gamut of cooperation. And as I carry the seven bath towels that were needed to mop up the floor after what passes for a relaxing tub time, I mentally tally and check off the day, what has been accomplished and what remains. I know I will need to ration my remaining energy and imagination so that when the sweet almond eyes, and rosebud mouths, finally close for the night, I can be sure that, if nothing else, they felt loved and I can hope that their dreams are sweet and not at all scary.

But is it enough? The people who tell me they could never do what we've done would say it is enough. Any parenting expert would probably say I've done enough. Judging the day on the facts that we are all safe and our stomachs are full and we probably learned something and we laughed more than a few times, most would deem the day a success. Most would say I did enough.

But what is enough? And why, even after a day spent doing nothing more than meeting needs, kissing boo boos, lifting bodies for hugs,,and making sure little hearts were never hurt for long, do I feel I could have done more?

I don't know what the "more" is, but I can sense it following me like a colorful dusty cloud. Always just beyond my reach, but within my subconscious, I cannot be satisfied no matter how busy my day has been.

As long as I know there are children living without clean water, without enough to eat, and without someone to rock them to sleep and chase their bad dreams away, I cannot be satisfied with my comfy little busyness. I believe that I am also responsible for the suffering that I cannot touch. It is not enough to wrap my children in new socks and blankets fresh from the dryer. In my mind's eye, I see the children who still shiver, whose eyes fill with tears that fall silently because there is no one there to hear them cry.

Because I know, I am not satisfied with my accomplishments of the day. As long as children suffer in conditions I probably could not survive, I can never, not for one moment, believe I am doing enough.

I cannot be satisfied because I am convinced I am not doing all that I need to be doing. When I feel tired, I know it is nothing compared to the exhaustion of a child fighting to survive. When I feel bored from doing the same chores everyday, I know it is nothing compared to the child who lives within the walls of an orphanage. And when my legs ache, I am reminded of the child who is living with a painful birth defect without access to pain medication.

The work I spend my days doing is worth nothing if I cannot also find a way to affect the lives of other children who spend their days waiting.....for relief, for a meal, for a family.

I have been blessed beyond measure. My life has been rich in color and love. I have been prepared for many things that have come to pass. And now I can't stop wondering what is next. What am I being prepared for now? What is out there for me to do?

Something on the horizon......something in the back of my mind......something from a dream I remember........something is trying to get my attention. The dissatisfaction and the knowledge that this is not enough is pushing me forward.....inward....upward.

And though I have no idea what I can do, how I can make a difference, how I can be instrumental in reaching out and offering comfort to where it is needed. And even though I have not idea what is being asked of me, the amazing thing is that for now, acceptance is ENOUGH. As I am ready, as I am willing, more will be revealed. It is written. It is enough.