writer & artist, at Christinarosalie.com
We’ve been away for the weekend, and when we return in the early dark of late autumn, my in-laws who’ve been with our 7 and 3 year old sons all weekend, have put the boys to bed. After we thank them and hug goodbye under the yellow circle of light in the mudroom, we tiptoe up upstairs and find our boys curled like small soft animals, their covers tossed asunder, their breath steady in the dark. It’s instinctual, and reflexive, the way I lean down then to kiss their warm heads, hair damp with sleep, and I can feel the way this gesture claims me. How I am suddenly only this: mother. Theirs. For an instant.
But as I tiptoe back down the hall I become other nouns, my mind already moving towards work and lists of things to do when tomorrow morning comes. Writer, strategist, teacher, artist, lover, wife, mentor, consultant, athlete, scholar. There are as many nouns for describing parts of me as there are fingers on my hands, yet each one still tastes like an unfamiliar fruit on my tongue. No single noun is enough.
Nouns speak of things, of places, of relationships of one person to another; they speak of origins and titles, accomplishments and vocation; they describe the ways that I am separate, solid, socially acceptable.
And there was a time, maybe, when I thought nouns where enough. When I imagined that I’d hit a someday someday when there’d be a singular noun—or two—that would define my everything; both who I was, and what I did.
But as I’ve aged, I’ve found the opposite to be true. With each passing year—as I’ve become each of these things, I realize I’m always in the midst of becoming, and that it’s adjectives and the adverbs—those words that describe those gray areas and between states: where being and doing, merge that come closest to what I am.
I am curious and hungry, focused and passionate, anxious and determined, fierce and wonderful, wondrous, fervent and voracious, moody and mindful. There is no end to the words that I can claim to describe my self image in a single moment.
And if I could tell my younger self anything, it would be this: to be in the becoming, instead of focusing with such determination on that static state you reach once you’ve become.
For being who you are, isn’t really about nouns or the fixed state signified by some degree, or title, or vocation at all; but who you are becoming as you arrive here in the moment, with wholehearted intention, right now.
Christina Rosalie’s new book, A Field Guide To Now is now available on Amazon. Christina is a writer, mixed media artist whose work has most recently appeared in Kinfolk, Milk and Ink and the Los Angeles Review; and in shows at Burlington City Arts gallery and SEBA gallery in Vermont. She lives with her husband and sons at the end of a long dirt road in northern Vermont. Visit her at christinarosalie.com where she writes about the art of living intentionally, and the realness, hilarity, and wonder that results from the convergence of curiosity, creativity, and life with little boys.