The Thief of Joy

Despite what it looks like, I have been writing. Little things here and there. A poem, a sentence, 1,000 words, a revision, a post-it, a half-essay, an email, a note to self in the side of some book. People always ask if I’m getting any writing done. The answer is yes and no. I’m writing. But I’m not getting it done. This could apply to so many things about right now: I’m doing, but not done-ing. And I’m assuming, at one point, to do meant to finish, if to be done comes from the same root as to do.


This completion part of my life seemed to stop when I had a child. Process has become so much more actual than a finished product, maybe because now that I have Zaley, I see that once you think you have a product (a child who sleeps, who eats well, who snuggles, who [fill-in-the-blank]’s) that product changes and you are employing all assets to get back on a track that you know, despite your best efforts at stabilization, will always be changing. It’s not so much that process trumps product, but that product is elusive, uncontrollable. The only way to live is to figure out how, not where.


A lesson, in Alaska, I am definitely still learning.


There has been heavy rain three days this week, which makes me tell Luke things like “your career has ruined my life.” Zaley has learned to say outside ("ahh-sad"…fittingly, on days like today) even when it will soak her and she will have no fun. “No fun,” I say, when the rain is coming off the roof and off the big lettuce leaves and off the edges of the car doors when I open them, and yet, I am wrong: she does has fun. She swings in the rain, squeals in the rain, and there is no end to her delight in a playground puddle and her pair of tiny Xtra Tuffs. I think one of the huge benefits of raising her here in the summertime is that she won’t have the other summer of down south to compare to this. As my friend Lisa said to me, quoting Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I realize, while watching Z, that getting things done might be that same kind of thief. Up here, at least, those joy-robbers have got nothing on us.