I dream of the perfect container, or holding space, for my idiosyncratic, freelancing poet’s life. This container would comprise a spacious, orderly home and predictable routine, and (I imagine) it would grant me a more placid soul.
The dream makes sense, given the chaos in which everyday life typically plays out in our home. I neither sleep nor write as much as I need, my desk is a mess, and most days I just barely get the kids to school on time. And the kids! Who, after a day of obedience at school, tear into each other the moment they come through the door.
What doesn’t make sense about my dream, though, is that I imagine that one day, after a lot of hard work, it will actually come true. When I wrote in September that “everything in me could unravel” in exploring the meaning of housekeeping, it was this fantasy that I wanted unraveled, that if I only I could work just a bit harder or smarter, I could find a way to contain our chaos completely.
In one of the first teachings I ever heard, the teacher said, “I don’t know why you came here, but I want to tell you right now that the basis of this whole teaching is that you’re never going to get everything together.” I felt a little like he had just slapped me in the face or thrown cold water over my head. But I’ve always remembered it.
— Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are