15 December 2008

What would Pa Ingalls do?

Hello in there, hello!

It is too freaking cold out today for me to want to go back out, now that my child is safely ensconced at school, which is just as well because I have a ton of work right here in front of me. I'm warming up fingers and mind for painting, IFS writing, and reassembling my kid's room, not to mention packaging up stuff to send and planning dinner and sewing up seams to slim down a couple of pairs of pants. Zounds! I do need to do something physical besides painting, though. My back's all achy. Maybe I can work on all my projects and then go to the rec center for a swim and sauna. That would be a fine goal for today.

This morning I thought of Pa Ingalls when I was making my second cup of coffee, and how surprised he would likely be at how long I had been up and how little I had gotten done in that time. But I did deliver my child to school and now am hunkering down to my work. "Make hay while the sun shines," sings through my mind whenever I think of him. Today I figured that would be a nice little tool to keep in my pocket: "What Would Pa Ingalls Do?" I don't want to shame myself into anything, but I do want to feel that same sunny determination to make the most of each day we have when we're here.

Which reminds me of one of the things about the SUV-driving/McMansion-owning Evangelical Christians that troubles me the most: I fear that all the focus on things being better in the next world keeps folks from being fully invested in this one. It's such a bad setup, on so many levels. If there's revelation then there's The Rapture, which I am always amazed people really believe could happen. One guy on This American Life was talking about his experiences calling certain people when he was not certain if the Rapture had happened (and he, by extension, had been Left Behind) and when they answered he was so relieved: "Phew! The Rapture hasn't happened yet. If it had, Aunt Shirley would not have answered her phone, because she'd be in Heaven for sure." It feels like pure permission to mess things up in the here and now in some perverse way. All the good folks will go away and then it will be really bad, Hell on Earth, so who cares if things get a little crappier right now? We're like those proverbial frogs in the pot on the stove, constantly adjusting to worsening conditions, even though we know things could get really, really bad.

What inspires people to be their best selves? I know my father yearned to have that near-magical aura of competence and integrity epitomized by Charles Ingalls and Jesus, but didn't have the foundation for it. (To me the evidence for that is in how "deceitful" he always accused everyone around him of being.) In my little universe I feel I'm just now learning how to truly rely on others and to be relied upon. I'm learning how to rely on myself (I've discovered it's amazing what the always-true statement "I have a rich inner life" does for my self-confidence). I do feel people around me know I'm a little odd or something. Perhaps it's the having only one child thing, or my short fuse. But it's okay. It's a way in which we know each other, and recognize each other's limits, and no one has to fake anything or lie about anything.

Being with my family makes me want to be my best self, as does making commitments to my friends, my writing group, and others in my circle. I do like to rely and be relied upon, and to live my life in a way that is honest and true. Knowing there are people in my life and out there on Twitter doing the things I want to be doing, and reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie stories, all give me something to reach for. Knowing people publish books and have babies at the same time is good, as is knowing it is possible at approximately my age to be centered and ambitious enough to be president despite all apparent obstacles.

A belated Parade of Lights update, speaking of all things Ingalls: Last weekend, the youngest and I went downtown and dressed up in costumes and walked with the Boulder History Museum folks, mostly because a neighbor is on the board and asked us if we'd like to join in. I had just seen something about our town celebrating its 150th anniversary and felt a pang of wanting to participate in that somehow. So we said yes to our neighbor. The funny part is we went to the museum before the parade and picked out our costumes but we didn't know what other people were wearing. We decided to dress as Laura and her Ma would. So on the Saturday of the parade, I felt very casual and underdressed when we arrived downtown and saw how everyone else was dressed. But looking back I felt it wasn't all bad to have us plainer folk along, either, representin' for those settlers way back when who didn't have silk dresses with petticoats.


Amy Pospiech said...

Sewing in seams to slim down a few pants, eh? Congratulations must be in order!

vanillagrrl said...

naw, not for me, for the slimster, my little one. I'm wearing all my winter layers, thank you very much, and not regretting it since it's about 12 F outside right now.

vanillagrrl said...

And I didn't mean congratulations were in order for my little one; that seems to be her body's type.