The myth of the interrupted life

I spent all day at the Apple Genius Bar because my phone sputtered a bit then died last night just before bed. I cradled it against my heart for a moment before shuffling to my laptop to make the appointment I hoped would cure it of its ills. I rearranged my schedule. I shifted my focus. This was the day I was meant to really get stuff done, you know. I’m certain that if it were not for this wicked thing that happened to my phone I’d have kicked the butt of the universe of paperwork and house upkeep I’ve let pile up around this joint.

The first 20 minutes or so I was just waiting. The next 30 I was trying to explain what happened and waiting while the tech did everything I had done at home. After that it was kind of a blur as I tried to figure out how to contact my lunch date to tell her I was stuck in what was either the waiting room to Heaven or to Hell.

“I have no phone” I kept thinking. I tried to see it as a gift of some sort. I tried to be all Zen about that and breathe the moment as it were. I went over to Starbucks and got me a latte while I was waiting for the angels (or demons) at Apple to fix my little beauty. Everyone had bent necks, looking down at their devices, laughing and maybe grimacing from time to time. I felt the way I had the day that Dave and I took a trip to Alcatraz on a tour boat. We all wore headsets at first to hear the recorded tour guide give tidbits of information. We took our headphones off, Dave and I, just to allow ourselves to watch what was in front of us. At various prescribed times the entire load of passengers would turn to the left or to the right. Heads nodded all together. Smiling at the same time. Gasping when appropriate. It was mesmerizing.

So I sat in that Starbucks and I watched everyone, fascinated and yet still lacking something. This lacking was not so much the constant entertainment my phone offers but rather, the connection, the ability to check my parking meter before it expired, the ability to text my kid at school to say I couldn’t pick him up, the ability to shift more things around that afternoon so that I could sit and wait patiently for the tech to finish up.

When I did finally retrieve my phone I treated it with great care and concern, not checking too many things, not asking too much of it. I kept it charging and comfortable and then I sat and lamented the interruption of my life. I wasted that whole day in the Apple store. By the time i sat down to write I felt overwhelmed. I felt blurry and dizzy. I felt as though I just needed a nap. I did everything I could to avoid doing much of anything, doing laundry, finishing up paperwork, gathering tax forms, working on the essays that have deadlines approaching…I felt had no words, save for these.

What’s interesting to me though as I sit here and lament 1)my addiction to my phone and 2)the interruption of my life today with getting it fixed, is that believing that my life was interrupted today is a myth. Life isn’t interrupted. It’s just life. This is it. The texts and the appointments and the cuddles with kids after school, those are all life. The broken ceiling fan and the furnace or iPhone that died this week, those are also life. This is all a varied and glittering assortment of life I got going on here. It’s all my life, all of it. To steal a phrase from Richard Rohr, “everything belongs.”

So, I’m resting in that and in this humble reach at getting words on the page today. It’s all life.

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parenting practice…

As I rambled on about this new idea I have for a book my daughter nodded absently. I tried to catch her attention with some buzz words and interesting angles. She looked up from her phone and smiled. “That sounds great, Mom” she responded and then she was gone again. I recognize that look. I recognize that tone.

I know I have said things like this; all covered in that absent tone, that false attention. I panicked a little and caught her eye again. “Can you put down your phone a minute?” I asked and she complied. “You’re not really interested in what I’m telling you, huh?” I pressed. She sighed and patted me on the back. “It’s great Mom, I’m interested.”

It isn’t that I thought she was lying. I know she is interested at some level. And I remember the when I discovered the world outside too. I remember when I went to my first party, heard my first Dead Kennedys album, drank my first beer. I remember when I became more me and less my parents. It’s exciting, being a teenager. It kind of sucks to be the parent in the scenario.  I get all misty eyed and then I get a little narcissistic. Beating back thoughts like, “I used to be cool.”

This happens, this growing up thing. It seems as though we’re always letting go.  That’s what we’re made to do as parents. From the moment they arrive in our household via adoption or conception, raising that child is all about teaching them to live their own lives, teaching them to live outside of our body, outside of our yard. It’s a risk, you know. A grief filled, ego crushing risk.

Be warned, I may do a lot of this wistful grieving over the next few….well, years I guess. Unless my Henry makes good on the promise he made when he was 7 or 8 to “always live in Mom’s basement” then I guess I’ll have to continue to practice letting go for a while yet.