A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Of Sinuses, Sleeplessness and Jackie Chan

Yesterday was one of those days...
Dark, gloomy on the outside... dark and gloomy on the inside.

I've been going through another bout of broken sleep... waking up in the middle of the night after 4 or 5 hours of okay sleep and then tossing and turning. Some nose blowing. I've had a bit of a cold and while it seems to have settled to a trickle now and again, it does affect sleep. A host of thoughts swimming around, some good, some depressing... all conspiring to keep me awake when the body desperately needs rest and restoration.

When I awake... it's headaches and fatigue. Headaches and fatigue mean an inability to deal with the ordinary silliness of life with children. Headaches and fatigue exacerbates the irritation. Headaches and fatigue means all you want to do is go back to bed but you can't because there is someone else to think about.

I scan the news all around the web... and it's depressing... but it's always depressing. Some days the accumulation of depressing-ness wears you down because a helplessness invades your soul. What can I do... when I can't even get my own child to listen to me?

Life as a suburban housewife is fundamentally about wrestling with ordinary things... the cooking, the cleaning, the washing supervising homework, disciplining children over and over again. A broken record might do just as well. Some are better at it, some revel in it... but some of us wonder when it'll all end. Is it an exercise in futility or is there more to it than the repetition of doing the same things?
Repetition is torture for someone like me... the organ that sits above my neck and shoulders explodes when I have to sing the last stanza of a song for the fourth time in a row.

What am I doing with my life?

Two Thoughts:
When I was growing up in Singapore, I remember being raised on a steady diet of Jackie Chan films... The really good stuff. Not the diluted, slapstick stuff he does now. But Jackie was really good (martial arts wise, that is) in those old flicks... several of them traditional revenge chopsocky. Okay, so they were and are cheesy but really... pffffft... it's a martial arts film. Among them, my favourite was Wooden Shaolin (offically it seems to be called Shaolin Wooden Men). In this story, Jackie is a mute orphan... not deaf. He just doesn't feel much like talking. And as the film progresses, the reason for that becomes clear. He somehow manages to wander into a Shaolin temple and picks up a move or two while he's there. In these types of films... which is where the themes of Karate Kid are located, he finds a mentor... sometimes two... one good, one hell bent on death and destruction. The training regime is fairly similar... the usual mundane stuff... carrying water water over a km of steps to fill an enormous wash basin on top of the mountain. Lots of menial tasks basically. Or physically gruelling stuff like attempting to stand motionlessly single-legged from dawn to dusk. The idea behind all this grinding monotony is that the trainee learns agility and grace by doing these mundane tasks, as well as building their inner and outer chops. Plus it's a great way to get the temple housekeeping stuff done for free. Hence, when the trainee is ready for the cool stuff, he/she (let's not be sexist here) will have all the strength and dexterity to kick all kinds of rear ends execute wonderful, far-fetched maneouvres.

Oddly enough, I see a spiritual analogy with my blatherings. Obviously I didn't as a twelve year old or a fifteen year old. Moses, the great and flawed man of God, was wandering around as a shepherd for 40 years before he received his call at the burning bush incident. I don't imagine being a shepherd is a lot of fun... it's a job... it was how he occupied himself and supported his family. But I imagine it gave him a lot of time to think... out in the wilderness, with nothing but sheep and grass to keep him company most of the day, you have nothing but time to wander and wonder. The time he spent in the wilderness taught him how to be humble and how to cope with apparently the most whiny, recalcitrant bunch of ungrateful wretches on the face of the planet. (Sounds familiar?)

Look, as mums, I doubt we're called to lead a couple of million people through land and sea (I don't entirely discount it, mind you) although I think getting the children from the house to the car some times does take a bit of doing. But humility is still the hardest lesson to learn, isn't it? It just goes against everything we are, to realize that we are earthern vessels... or dust....
The discipline of life, though, keeps us real, keeps us looking outside ourselves and heavenward for ultimate hope and eternal blessing.

Ah... some sunlight at last... it's good to see it... Hopefully there's enough of it for my laundry before the next lot of rain comes.

 (Photo: Film Journal)

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