The Wild Takes Its Place

Before God let me know just what the face of my family would look like, I had plans and notions of my own. I wanted five kids (down from the nine I imagined in high school, before I spent summers with rooms full of two- and three-year-olds for work in college.) I wanted a house big enough to stretch out in, but not so big it seemed cold, seemed anything less than a warm hug at the end of a hard day.
I imagined a controlled chaos, both frenetic and melodic, like the best of the hard rock songs that lend themselves well to work and movement.
I wanted a wild that sidled up to the planned and proper, the logical, and took it for a ride.
I made these plans before depression, before social anxiety, before a deficit of attention that demanded a muzzle be placed on all things wild.
In the deficit, in the disorder, I began to plan the landscape of my life into freshly tilled, perfect squares. Each place would have a purpose, each planting would have a place.
I knew how the squares of my days would be filled, how they would have to function, so that I could function.
But my perfect squares went pear-shaped and I slipped, I slid. I’m still trying to gain traction in slips of time that are increasingly not my own.
There were days.
Then there were years.
The places grew their own wild things without consideration to my plotting, my planning.

Last year, with the help of some backs stronger than mine, a square in front of our house was dug up, raked under, and covered in the seeds of wildflowers. The seeds were watered, pressed in, watered again, and waited on. I had no idea what to watch for, what to do other than wait and follow the instructions I knew to follow.
A couple of months passed and green poked through the expectant soil, up through the dirt and into my garden, and measuring against past failures, I assumed I had grown a patch of weeds.
Last year, in the square blue room I work in, I filled hundred of squares with thousands of words. Then I placed a period after the last word, and turned my back, tired.
The words couldn’t be watered, or waited on. I kept my back turned.
Then, summer.
Then, sun.
Then food, and friends, and family, and time.
Coming back from a time away, I returned to find the patch of wildflowers as tall as my waist, and wildly flowering.
I was wrong. They had done just what they were supposed to. They were messy, and wild, and scattered.
And growing.
Pinks and oranges and purples and yellows peeked through the green, and buds unopened held the promise of more.
Opening and printing my first draft, I held my breath for all I imagined I would have to mow down, weed out, force into form and function. I imagined the empty spaces I would have to fill. I imagined the hollowed vaults I would have to fill it all from.
But there, where I thought I would find a mess of weeds, I saw buds, I saw possibility, and next to the buds were flowers I could keep, I could cultivate.


I still try to impose order and shape to my days, the borders of which flex and flow. The five imaginary faces have been replaced by two very real ones. I can reach out and rest my hand on each of their cheeks as they sleep, mouths open, eyelashes fluttering. There is more chaos than order. The wild takes its place in the corner, flicks its tail, awaiting a moment it can shake up, stir around, wrestle.
I am learning that in my deficit, in my disorder, I can still get things done. I am learning how to make peace with the chaos, in and out.
And I am carving out a home in the words, which welcome, and warm, like a good hug at the end of a hard day.

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2 thoughts on “The Wild Takes Its Place”

  1. What a beautiful and very appropriate analogy between a garden and imagined/real life. I read this this morning and spent my whole day thinking on it.

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