It never is just about the peanuts or the cookies. Like the morning I start wandering the halls at work, prowling for something, anything to munch on. I discover a few shelled peanuts in one office, and then find myself at the vending machine searching for my favorite vanilla sandwich cookies. But the machine is out of order, and the one in the adjacent building isn't working either. For awhile I search for someone to make change for a twenty dollar bill on the off chance that the vending machine will take cash instead of a credit card. Maybe that way it will work? But, no one has change, and I find myself back in my office. I realize that it is not about the peanuts or the cookies. It is about the tiny, irritating hole in my soul that has flared up recently. My inner child is in need of some nurturing for some reason – and of course as soon as I think that I realize I know exactly what the reason is that stirs up these old early childhood hurts and holes. I stare out of the window at the sun shining through a clear, blue sky. I hold still with the twinges of childhood pain, and breathe in and out deeply. Nurturing comes in different forms, I say to myself. Peanuts and cookies will be transient. They will encourage me only to look for more.
Then I am reminded of the film, Boyhood, that I saw recently. Toward the end, the mother weeps a little as she wonders how time has flown by, and that she always thought that somehow there would be more to life. I always thought that too, and identify with how she was feeling as she said that out loud. Somehow it is comforting to think that this is it! Life is about being seized by moments here and now, and that "we are all just winging it." I forgive myself for the crazy decisions I made in my past. I did the best I could at the time, I think as I reflect on the lives of the characters in Boyhood. I realize, too, that I never understood what my son was feeling as he was growing up. I wonder – did I even think about that at all, as I simply tried to survive the day to day of living?
My mind continues to wander, and I discover that my urgent desire for peanuts and cookies has passed me by. Nurturing myself has taken the form of writing out loud my feelings in the moment. Faculty are arriving for the first meetings of the semester, some stopping in to share their summer stories with me, and also enthusiastically listening to mine.
A warm sense of belonging envelops me, and I remember the reason I had for feeling a hole in my soul at the beginning of this post.