Something Big Like That

When I was a kid, I remember wishing to be one of three things when I grew up someday.  In no order, I wanted to be a school bus driver; a baby deliverer; someone who worked with books.  I also remember thinking that "growing up" would just, like, magically happen someday.  It was simply something that would occur, like going from fifth grade to sixth grade.  Something big like that. 

Lately, I have been waking up in the middle of the night in a mess of anxiety and heaviness.  My mind unravels like a ball of yarn, and that yarn passes through my heart where it pulls and makes its way to my belly, where it just becomes a knot of disappointment.  What am I doing with my life?  God, is this enough - writing stories, suspending the beauty of a moment in a photograph?  Am I serving?  I want to serve You - the light that shines in the highest presence of myself.  If I am not doing enough, please guide me. I'm not doing enough.  I'm not doing enough.  I toss back and forth like a fish out of water, pleading for clarity.  I wish the curtains were open so I could look for the moon.  I wait, thinking a sign will magically appear, but nothing happens.  Only the passing of time, and eventually I fall back asleep. 

Always, deep inside, I have wanted to be someone who served a higher-purpose.  Thinking back, I was a very creative child.  A lot like Sully, I think to myself now.  Creative and a caretaker.  Perceptive; an observer.  When I'd play school bus driver, it was the route I loved riding on my bike.  The crack in the sidewalk that was a "stop" and the way I'd pull over on my bike and wait patiently in the hot Florida sun as the children of my imagination got on or off the bus.  Or the way I would set my dolls up with great care beneath the waxy, navy green leaves of our neighbor's magnolia tree.  I'd place one of my pocket-sized Beatrix Potter books in front of each of them and tear apart magnolia blossoms, "cookies", that scent just as much a part of my being as my hair or nails.  I tell these stories to my boys now, and they love to hear them over and over again, especially the day that as my dolls were having treats and stories under the tree, a bird pooped on my head.  Warm white drippings slid down my forehead and I ran home in tears.  When I came back to retrieve my books and dolls, my neighbor -who was like an adopted grandpa to us - asked me what happened.  I remember the smile that spread out across his face, and his words, You know it's good, good luck to be pooped on by a bird, his North Carolina accent sweet-thick and drippy.  Those words, they became as much a part of me as my liver and my skin.  

I awoke again last night, in the middle of the night.  Only this time the voice inside of me hashed out something like this:  Just stop.  Stop!  You live a life of service each and every day.  You are accountable for two boys who search out your arms when everything in the world feels like it's falling apart.  A peanut butter and jelly request is not just a peanut butter and jelly request, but your homemade strawberry jam, please.  You know when to just hold someone and teach them to feel the feeling, because a fix isn't always the answer.  Sometimes the salve is simply the story of how you once got pooped on.  Shit happens.  And then I hid my eyes because the sight of my dad came to my mind's eye, bone-to-bone.  The care-taking that was scary, that breaks dying and death into little pieces that together make you realize that life is both fragile and never long enough.  A circle of gold light.  That's what we are now.  Heaven and Earth. 

One time Theo asked me if I was a change maker or an artist.  He had been studying change makers - specifically writers locally and globally that make a difference in their communities and the world - in his class.  I was stumped so I asked him to elaborate.  He said, well, you write and so do many change makers, but you are also a photographer, and that's being an artist, right?  I couldn't answer him.  There was no magical thinking, only the humble reality of finally being a mixed up grown up.  I told him I wasn't really sure what I was.  He said he thought I was maybe both.

Those words, I swallowed them.  They are as much a part of me as my soul.  Only sometimes I forget.


  1. Ah, Katie. Theo and Sully are so lucky to have you as a mom! I know they are going to carry all of this love and thoughtfulness forward into their adult lives. That makes all of us lucky!

    1. Thanks for the sweet words, A! xo

  2. Sigh. I'm swallowing *your* words. That same question nags at me, but mostly I don't have time for it--not yet--and it quickly dissipates. Thank you for these words to draw upon when that nagging question fails to dissipate. You are such a shining light of love.

    Also, this reminds me that I should tell more stories to my kids about my own childhood. There is so much gold.

    1. I totally get that - this is the first time since having my boys that I have had large chunks of time to myself, daily. There is all of this new space for birthing something entirely new. :)