When I was a teenager, I wanted to save the world. I wanted to fly to Indonesia to give aid after the tsunami.
In my twenties, it was all about laying the path to professionally make a difference.
In my thirties, it is now that I realize the world is right here around me, concentric circles, like ripples in water, emanating outward. My world of work and effort is at the center. Beyond that circle, lies another and another.
The strength of my influence changes with each one.
Here at the center, a lot of people live in my house. I am responsible for most of them. I hear them yelling and laughing and complaining and crying in the background. When I look out my window, just past the flower beds you read so much about, I see a spread of bright green grass, boarded by a row of irises, their tips browned by the sun and dehydration, with weeds slowly matching them in height. Beyond them lays a perfectly mowed lawn of varying hues of light green to brown, mostly brown.
Then the weeds.
Then the road, which I cannot cross unless I can run because Whitmore Avenue is a busy place.
And just beyond that, an almond orchard whose white petaled blossoms fragranced the air in spring and whose green leaves provide the perfect complement to the golden yellow walls my historic home’s living room.
On most days I appreciate the orchard. I have no idea how many acres there are, but there are some industrial techniques geared towards efficiency that mean I cannot open my windows some mornings. The baby sleeps beautifully through the white noise on those days.
The traffic is beyond my control.
The weeds are within my control. The irises are within my control. Theoretically, the watering issues are within my control. I control how often and how well-timed I bug my husband about it.
Drawing my view back towards the center, that green grass, the flowers surrounding the house, the successful succulents, the happy hydrangea, the pruned roses, these are within my control.
The four-year-old running through the living room, the tired six-year-old crying, the complaining seven-year-old hit on the arm, the book bug nine-year-old, these are less in my control than I might like.
If I spent too much time thinking about the orchard across the street, and the traffic on the street, I’m not sure how well I can handle the noise in the center of the house or the noise in the center of my heart.
Through each sphere cuts mainstream media and social media, discussing the things in in my home and the things beyond my home. They are designed to tell me that everything is so important no matter what circle it is in.
The world is kind of an exhausting place right now.
There is a lot of in-between-ness going on. Are we in crisis? Are we out of crisis? Is this the new normal? Or has that still not happened yet?
It is hard when everything feels so important.
Beyond the places where it feels normal, I am reminded online of how very, very not normal, how chaotic and how critical these times are.
I watch the things across the [metaphorical] street, but the only control I have is to curb my internal or external reaction to cars honking or screeching tires. The farther out the circle of influence goes, the further in my heart lies efficacy.
The task at hand is not to save the world, because I cannot, but to find some way to relate to these concentric circles in a healthy and manageable way without draining my emotional bank before I have served those in the immediate sphere.
To get a response, a click, a shared link, many rely on fueling the reader’s emotions.More than ever, when there is so much to feel about each of these circles, I need to be careful in considering how I spend what I’ve got.