Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Roll Tide

Let me start by saying this is not a football post. For one thing we are clearly not in the right season for a football post and for another, I'm not actually that invested in football, Tide or no Tide (but don't tell my kids, okay?) Okay. But all these photos were taken during A-Day when Alabama plays Alabama and Alabama wins. 

In Tuscaloosa, you will hear "Roll Tide" said over and over again especially during college football season but not limited only to those six months. Though the phrase has its roots in relation to the Crimson Tide, it seems to have taken on a life of its own and is used for just about anything. Child received high marks on difficult test? Roll Tide. A family member has fallen unexpectedly ill? Roll Tide. You find a penny on the ground? Roll Tide. A really good BBQ joint opens up downtown? Roll Tide. The Tide wins the National Championship again? Roll Tide Roll. Each of these "Roll Tides" have a different inflection of course, one wouldn't cheerily shout the phrase at someone whose parent just passed. But you would say it.

The proliferation of this saying got me to thinking about Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift of the Sea. There is a tide/sea correlation so that's what I'm working with. In this book Ms. Anne discusses some of her time at the beach. It is a lovely, philosophical little book that inspires me to pack up and head to the beach...alone. However, since that is not humanly possible at this stage in my life it brings me to reflect on my current stage. Ms. Anne describes how a woman's normal life tends to run counter to creative life, and that the problem is "more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel [which is mothering and the interests and duties are the spokes]." In some ways, life has sucked all the creative juices right out of me. I have little time to dream either during the day or in the night. Exhaustion prevents creative brain function. And so I wait. I wait until I get a little burst, a glimmer of what dreams may come and I hang on desperately to those starbursts until the time comes when I can examine and develop and cultivate my creative dreams. 

Right now, I'm in my Roll Tide life. Which means a couple different things, but here's a snapshot of life currently: Living in Tuscaloosa, literally Roll Tide Country. Husband. In graduate school. Working hard. Grueling summer schedule. Me. Currently working full-time. In a library. Working hard. Four children. Each growing. Each learning. And differently from each other. Each talking. Each touching. Fighting. Playing. Me again. Hormonal. Pregnant. Weepy. Making tough decisions easy and easy decisions tough. Always. Feeling. Love. Happiness. Despair. Joy. Hope. 

The current season of my life is temporary. I know this. My children will grow, to my never-ceasing sorrow and I know that I will look back with some regret. Regret that I wasn't fully present. That I was always looking to what was next in the daily schedule, to the next meal, the next grade, the next phase, the next milestone, the next day, the next week, month, year. I'm not the only one. I read enough of other mothers to know that I am not alone. Neither in my "forward-thinking" nor my lack of energy for dreams. I'm great at starting things, not so great at finishing them. Sometimes it's time. Sometimes it's interest. Sometimes it's exhaustion. But it's just phase. Like the ebbing of the tide, sometimes cast out to sea and other times sticking to the shore. 

I also like what Ms. Anne has to say about relationships stating that "All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms." As a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, colleague, I see how each of these relationships change and morph into something different over time or even in a single moment. Ms. Anne continues, "The light shed by any good relationship illuminates all relationships. And one perfect day can give clues for a more perfect life." I seek after these clues. I catch glimpses of them in the ordinary moments with my husband and my children, with my work and with my friends. They graze my heart and soul and brain leaving minor gold flecks, traces of their having passed through pointing and preparing me for what will come next, because I need those bursts in order to maintain the consistent balance of the tide. I need to be steady, coming in and receding at regular intervals. While also remembering that in any phase of life "Roll Tide" is a legitimate response. 

My next phase won't necessarily be a Roll Tide phase, as I may not be in Roll Tide country, but I will always have the experiences that led me here and here will shape me for hereafter: "For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well." 

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