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What do you long for this summer?
Are you going big, going home – or both?
In another life, we would be celebrating the first birthday of our daughter this week, instead of marking a year since the day we planted her ashes under a bleeding-heart bush, beneath a big oak tree. I have accepted this reality, and yet this sentence remains difficult to write, and to share.
Our future this summer remains uncertain. There remains here a longing to send down more roots, to grow our family. And there also remains a deep desire to branch out, in other ways. To find spaciousness and connection outside of our nuclear family, and our little home in the New York City suburbs. To breathe fresh and unfamiliar air, on the page and in the world.
Ironically, to do so, we know that we need to continue to grow our village. As parents, we need more help with the responsibilities we have, help from the chosen family to which we are increasingly attached and indebted, in order to live the lives of spaciousness of which we dream. (Virginia Woolf, you tried to warn us.)
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I think we all have these divergent desires in summer, as do the more-than-human plant and animal beings around us. This season calls us all to create and sink into the places where we can feel safe to let go. It also calls us to explore and break new ground, while the time for breaking and rebuilding is here. To resource ourselves through our underground mycelial networks in order to reach up towards the sky.
We want to go big and to go home.
When I have spoken to my friends and neighbors this week, I hear these themes being echoed back to me.
So many of us long for more connection and more creativity than we have access to right now, after colonialism and waves of social crises, including the pandemic, have disrupted the balance of our inner and outer ecosystems. Do we now look out over a clear-cut shorn of life, or a blank canvas inviting us to begin again? Could it be both? How might we safely begin to plant new seeds of creativity again, where grief and loss have cleared the ground?
At the same time, so many of us also long not to root or re-plant but to roam, after being cooped up by COVID precautions and other life limitations that have kept us stuck. For some of my friends, being “stuck” has meant hunkering down and waiting for the housing market to shift into a more accessible state before they can change locations. Or remaining at a draining job because making even a lateral move, much less downshifting, feels impossible under the current conditions. Or staying close to home to access fertility treatments when we’d rather be motorcycling around the country. (H/T tofor this one.) The longing to break through these constraints can become its own presence in the room after a while, crowding out the space we’d otherwise claim for joy.
This work of living and growing is such a push-pull, both-and experience, isn’t it?
Through creating this project, I have learned how not-alone I am in the sadness and searching I feel this week, and this knowing has brought healing (something I wrote about last week). We all want to stretch and grow and expand, and we all struggle to do so. We all need to feel more deeply rooted in order to feel like we can begin again, and we all struggle to do so.
What do you think? What are the longings you have for your summer – to root down, to find spaciousness, to grow something bigger, or both-and?
Below, I’m running an anonymous poll to give us a little taste of witnessing each other in our answers, even if we don’t actually have all the answers yet. (If you’re reading this via email, you may need to open this in a browser to participate.)
Here’s wishing you a weekend of rooting down and growing tall – however that looks for you. I’ll be gardening under that big oak tree in honor of my daughter-to-be, and taking some time off of writing to simply sit in its roots and rest. I’ll see you on the other side of that, very soon.