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QUINTESSENCE

Life 101

“We have met the enemy and they is us.”
-Pogo

A week or two ago my phone rang at the crack of dawn. (Children and emergencies have no time zones.) My daughter, fully distraught, had found herself in an academic crisis during an intensive summer science course. Being my daughter, her first response was to emotionally dissolve. I am her “safe place.” I know from experience that within a day, perhaps just hours, she will have vented the bad stuff and settled down into her ever-so-capable cranium and begun to solve her way out of whatever dilemma she has found herself in.

But what greets me on the phone is a serious wobble. The world is out of tilt. Here we go, I think. I can sense the tears trembling within her words. But for the first time I am not whirling around in her tornado as I usually am, but listening, knowing she is far more equipped to handle this than she realizes. That she can, and will, resolve things in a positive way, and soon. In my double-decade span of parenting, I’ve come to call this resting within crisis “the sweet spot” - when the right touch somehow finds the right wisdom and lands perfectly in the heart.

Sure enough, within a few hours she had recouped her composure, contacted the professor, and together they unearthed a massive classroom computer error. I enjoyed the rest of my morning quiet in my office, content to watch the rain, thinking how, as Pogo so cannily observed, we are our own worst enemies. Perhaps this "supportive detachment" is an echo of the universe toward chaos amongst our human souls on earth?

We are more equipped to handle life than we realize.
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