Sometimes I wish my dog would just lie down and stay quiet for a while. But actually, this is exactly how she spends most of her time. If I wanted a dog that does it non-stop, I’d be better off buying a stuffed toy.
Sometimes I wish the baby would just fall asleep and give me a break. But actually, she’s sleeping more often than not. If I wanted a child that sleeps non-stop… no, I wouldn’t ever want this. This is one of the worst tragedies that can happen to a parent.
Sometimes I wish the baby was more self-sufficient. But then I ask myself: by how much? Enough to sit upright? Walk on her own? Spend time all by herself? Get a job, move to a different continent and call maybe once a month?
There’s plenty of stuffed toys in our house. We don’t usually pay much attention to them. They never cry, whine, or run around enough to earn our focus. Even the creatures that sometimes do all these things don’t get as much attention when they’re fast sleep.
Life happens at the edges. That’s where your time and attention go. Even before we had a dog and a kid there was always a frontier, the most pressing challenge that pushed me to my limits. Some of them seem ridiculous now. Some of them I miss a little bit.
You can’t get rid of the edge any more than you can comb a hairy ball flat. No matter how much you organize, simplify and debug your life, there will always be some twists and turns and odd pieces awkwardly sticking out.
Luckily you have more choice than you might think in deciding what shape this edge is going to take. And when it’s a shape that you chose yourself and hold dear, you get to appreciate all these tiny moments where you’re at your limits and yet somehow also so very alive.
You wouldn’t want to surf on water that stands still. You wouldn’t want to watch a fairy tale past the happily ever after. There’s nothing there. No challenge, no movement, no change, nothing to experience or enjoy. Life happens at the very point where one thing turns into another, and this always creates heat and friction.
Your life will always have an edge, so you might as well reflect upon what shape it currently has. If it’s not where you’d ideally prefer it to be, you can start stretching it inch by inch in that direction. And once you get the hang of it, all you have left to do is to keep surfing.