My 4 year old stood expectantly on his step stool, cup measure in hand. “I like pancakes,” he declared.
“Me too,” I replied as I tore open the bag of flour.
Uh oh. I peered into the bag. The smooth surface of the flour was punctured by a few little holes.
“What’s wrong Mommy?” he asked.
“I think we have a problem,” I said as we started to sift. Sure enough, as the flour sifted into the bowl, the sieve revealed wriggling beetles. “We’ll just strain them out,” I said until I realized that, worse than the pile of beetles was that the flour was full of larvae, just the right size to worm through the holes and fall into the powder beneath. White on white. So subtle you could almost miss it. Protein pancakes, indeed. I set the bag aside in case it became my only option for flour. I’d sift through another day. Maybe.
It has been that sort of week.
By and large, I like my life. It is not easy but I am in a good space. Yet, as the last few days have sifted my thoughts, I find discontent, fatigue and impatience burrowing deep. Maybe it is the problem of early January with a whole string of new expectations; maybe it is a cumulative effect of too much work and pressure and too little rest and play. Perhaps it is the blasted blessed process of sanctification that pulls things down off the shelf to sift through, one small bag at a time before baking something new.
These kinds of days, especially a string of them in a row, drive me crazy. I feel shallow and scattered, brittle like the ice on a puddle in early spring. Someone missteps, I shatter and all the murky water bubbles up, muddying their boots.
When I have a quiet moment, my mind is crowded with a tumble of sharp words and images in shards.
Even as I write this, my baby has woken up twice from his nap. Usually he sleeps well but for whatever reason today, he is off too. He wakes up wailing and the minute we pick him up, he goes right back to sleep.
Anyone who has had a baby recently, or anyone who has had a baby not-so-recently and is fortunate enough to come out of the experience with memory intact, may recall holding a sleeping baby in a public place. The baby has a magnetic force. People stare. They oogle. They coo. They say wistfully, “What a little angel. I wish I could have someone hold me and rock me so I could fall asleep in the middle of all this noise.” We wish, on our bad days, we could wake up wailing, stretch out our arms and have someone hold us while we go back to sleep, shushing away the noise.
But reality, many times has us instead standing in the kitchen, hungrily staring at a bowl full of bugs, thinking, “What is the point?”
So how do we get from one image to the other? How do we move from protein pancakes to peace? How do we trade in the wriggly, unsettled thoughts for the ability to rest?
I sift, first for the bugs, second for the worm-y things, then again and again to be sure. I sift, to understand what my thoughts are, what I’m feeling. I try to pull out the beetles before they breed lies like larvae, concealed deep. I sift again to see where they come from. I sift out truth from lies, reality from perception. I sift to see what needs to change. And when I’m tired of sifting and feeling desperate, I do a really hard workout or smell a sleeping baby. In the fog of the glass shower door, to quiet the clamor, I write Fight and watch the letters run in rivulets down the door.
This is my current strategy. What remains to be seen is if it makes things better in the long run since occasionally in the short term it feels worse.
What do you do to quiet the noise?