And so the three-week full-time Babarama childcare spree draws to a close. Next week resumes a somewhat more balanced mix of Mama and Baba childcare, and with it, a more balanced mix of words with images at this here blogular pit stop.
Did I love being with these two people all day long, five-plus days a week? Youbetcha! They are simply delightful human beings; that’s “the net,” as Auntie Rachel would say. But was it possible for Baba to keep her feathers from getting ruffled the whole time? Er. Next question, please. Was it possible to get much of anything else done besides caring for them and occasionally — and I mean, occasionally — clearing a path through the day’s detritus, so’s we could move about the place and find things? Not really; not so much. But I learned a lot.
My beloved and I (like everyone, or at least everyone in egalitarian relationships) are ever and always searching for balance: between work & play; public engagement & private replenishment; kid- or elder-care & self-care; the one of us having the time for artistic and professional self-realization & the other of us having the same (all the while continuing to afford to live in my homeland, which, over the course of my lifetime, has become about the most expensive place to live on the continent).
Will we find that balance? Some days we think yes; some days we think no. Will we stop trying? ‘Course not. I once heard Joan Baez field a question which she must have been asked at every speaking engagement: “Why pursue a course of non-violent civil disobedience when violence seems to have won out so often in the history of the world?” She gave a three-part answer, which went something like: “First, that’s not so; massive and lasting social change has been accomplished using non-violence. Look at India; look at the American South; look at what’s happening right now in South Africa. Second: the violent aspect of human nature may be more expedient and easy to appeal to, but the loving aspect runs far, far deeper, and the change made using that is lasting and real. But finally: that’s the only life I want to lead. Whether or not nonviolence makes the change I’d like to see in my lifetime, I want a lifetime working for justice that way.”
She may have phrased it differently, but when I heard her say this in the Spring of 1985, after her return from a tour of Central and South America, it stuck, especially that last part. That was my first, deep, “it’s the journey as much as the destination” kind of life lesson. Powerful testimony to the worth of paying attention to the means as much as the ends. Buddhists refer to this as intention, and value it a great deal.
Whether or not my beloved and I expect to find a durable balance between all these things which matter to us (a lot easier to accomplish, you might think, than World Peace), we will continue to try. And appreciate the quiet moments between the pendulum swings.
[*”This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper,” said Mr. T.S. Eliot, and I suppose we’ll all have to wait to find out whether or not he’ll have been right.]