Oddly, though, in those moments I don't look at myself and say, "Oh, what a pathetic mess! My God, woman, lose 20 lbs, get something moving with your career, be more assertive, more creative! Really." What I'm left with after these moments is usually a sense of space, of strength, even gratitude. I see the opportunities in front of me and feel, if only for a few minutes, that stepping into them would be simple. I find that I am free from the accordion-like expansion of my list of chores and faults.
It's like a mini-vacation, and I wish I could take one everyday.
And then it occurs to me, since it is Lent and I should be attempting some sort of spiritual life, that this is more or less what prayer offers. And I could do it everyday. Not the nearly-mechanical prayers offered before work, meals, or bed. But the kind of prayer that comes from making space inside myself for God, and surrendering the consequences of such space. Of the joy in what I have right now, instead of pining after a neighborhood we do not yet live in, for local friends I do not yet have, for creative recognition for projects yet incomplete.
I know and yet I do not know. It is the time-honored dilemma: I know with this my head and not my heart. And it's not more knowledge that will make the difference in my life-- dear brain forever whirling around itself--but more prayer. More space for God: God inside me, inside Ike, and even inside the smiling monkey doormat. God is here, now. That's the point. I keep losing sight of God, and correspondingly, of myself.