Posted February 26, 2012 by
It’s Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles and I just did a Google search to see what time it is in Melbourne. 9AM, apparently. Melbourne is where my Australian publisher is located and today is the launch of my book over there. I’ve been getting emails from readers with photos of the book in bookstores and news of the book in the papers. Wish I was there for it! Please do send me word if you see it in a book shop, etc. So fun!
On my side of the world, I’m sitting here in my yoga clothes, having recently returned home from a class and easing into an afternoon of playdates followed by Oscar red carpet watching with friends. But what I’m really thinking about is what comes next. And I don’t mean next as in the flight I’m taking to Chicago and the AWP conference on Tuesday, or even next as in my prenatal appointment in a couple of weeks, or even the next as in my baby’s due date in June.
I mean next as in a much larger sense.
Today in yoga I stretched and leaned and twisted, settling into my body and breath and focused on being present, but part of me was rejecting that philosophy all the while. I feel like all I am these days is present. I’m hardly ever thinking about what’s behind me, nor am I concentrating on the bigger picture of my life. Instead, my day to day is filled up with what’s in front of me right this very minute — emails popping up, book sales numbers, dirty diapers, grocery lists, airplane seat assignments, the baby squirming in my abdomen, baskets of laundry and making sure the cat has had his medicine this morning. There’s so much on my plate these days that I often wake up in the early morning hours, my head buzzing with lists of things I need to do, unable to fall back asleep until just before it’s time to actually wrench myself from bed and into the frenzied day.
Granted, anyone who knows me well will tell you that I thrive on this kind of schedule, that I wouldn’t have it any other way, that I have always lived my life as fully and hectically as possible. And it’s true, but usually I have a better sense of what’s ahead on the path, of what’s coming next. And lately I haven’t had a breath to look much farther than what’s right in front of me at any given moment.
Yesterday, thanks to some lovely friends who took Vera for the afternoon, Greg and I went on a long hike through Temescal Canyon (where I took the above photo). It was late in the day and the shadows were cool. I zipped up my hoodie and really let my body settle in for the two hour hike, one that’s not easy at 6 months pregnant. On the stretches where breath and conversation flowed easily, our talk never strayed much farther than the last week or so, who we saw, what they said, what we did, what’s coming up in the next few days. It wasn’t hard to stay on those topics simply because there literally is so much to discuss, but I thought about it later and realized that even when we discussed the future, it didn’t extend beyond the next six months.
Later that evening, at the same friends’ house who watched Vera, after pizza and salad, just as we were on our way out the door, my friend Mark leaned in, and almost in a whisper, said, “I’ve been wanting to ask you. What’s next?” I knew he meant in a bigger picture sense and for a moment I could only look back at him, so stunned was I to be pulled so jarringly out of the present.
See, Mark is a big fan of my book and has recently played an instrumental way in making sure it has a chance of finding its way into more hands than I can imagine (more on that down the road). Mark is also a kindred spirit, someone who has walked his own long and hard path to finding the peace and love that surrounds him today. He’s someone I have trusted, and adored, since the moment I met him, and when he looked into my eyes last night and asked me that question, I felt like he was throwing me a life raft. And so I cleared my throat, and reached out through the roiling waters of my present-day life and took it. “That’s something I’m working on,” I said.
He nodded, his eyelids heavy for a moment, and I could tell he was thinking. I was thinking too.
In fact, I’ve been thinking ever since last night. I haven’t come to any conclusions, any answers or sage decisions, but I do know that it’s time to change my focus. I have this funny feeling that this water I’m treading in all the time isn’t so deep after all. That all I really need to do stand up and I’ll be able to see the horizon again.