a speck in the vastness

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last night, Bullet was making us all a little batty.  He kept stealing the kids' stuffed animals and chasing his tail and basically being the physical manifestation of cabin fever.

So, even though I really really really (did I say really?) didn't want to, I pulled on my sneakers for the first time in about ten days and took him out for a jog because he needed to smell and pee on weird things and be in wide open spaces of the fields behind our house.  And once we got back there and dusk was already blanketing us and, as I was headphoneless, the crickets were singing their favorite tune for us, I realized that was exactly what I needed to...not the smelling and peeing on weird things of course, but to be in the wide open spaces.

I've been all wrapped up in my own head the past two weeks between the start of the school year, which truthfully has not been going anywhere as smoothly as I had imagined (like everything in life, right?) Grey has been feeling homesick at school and whines about going every day.  every.day.  so my mind has been a whirlwind of how to support him, how to encourage him, how I've basically done a poor job of preparation and I'm bad at being a mom (I know, that's going off the deep end, Tabitha - but this is how I speak to myself inside of my brain at 11:30pm, so let's just be real).

Plus, the news.  ugh, the news that's been breaking my heart and I have not been able to drag myself to this keyboard and write anything that seems important when there are babies washing ashore in Greece.  what is wrong with the world, everyone seems to ask.  to point fingers at everyone else.  there's an us and a them everyone seems to agree.  everywhere you look everyone is distinguishing between an us and a them.

So back to last night, Bullet and I were jogging in the mostly dark trails behind our house, and it is rare to see another living human.  We see all sorts of living things, deer, turkey, last night I swear there was an anteater like 50 yards away...I know it couldn't have been, but then what was that?  And I get to look across the fields, and over at the mountains, and running past the forest lined trail, I can feel myself coming back into focus.  If you zoomed out to helicopter height, would you even see Bullet and I?  Wouldn't we just blend in with the topography of the landscape?  All of my worries and thoughts and stresses contained to just this one tiny person on a back dirt road in the middle of corn fields and meadows.  A speck.

It has always been a great comfort to me to know I'm a speck in the vastness.  When we travel to the beach, one of my favorite things to do at least once while we are there, is to take a kayak out past the waves and the reef and as my husband holds his breath in panic and shakes his head at me incredulously but supportively (the story of our marriage), I hop off the side and drop myself into the deep blue sea.  I only stay in for a moment or two (mostly because Brandon is scanning the vicinity with expectant eyes of any giant sea creature to just jump up and swallow me whole), but I can picture myself zoomed out in that moment: me and my heart full of so much and my brain full of so much feeling as grand and big as the world itself, then I drop into the ocean and it would be impossible for me to make a smaller dent.  Sinking underwater with a big leap but only dropping a few feet in with the whole of the ocean beneath me.  A speck.

I love the city, which many people find incredible considering I was born and raised country and also love living in the country as an adult.  Who in a stable mental capacity loves both the city and the country?  well, me.

Anyway, I can get the speck feeling in the city too, I used to walk home from teaching and pass apartment building after apartment building, each building holding a hundred apartments, and knowing each apartment holds a different person or family.  And each of them are bursting with their own heart full of so much and their own brain full of so much.  There I was walking on the sidewalk while hundreds, thousands, millions of families were eating their dinner, or arguing, or falling in love.  A speck.

There's a freedom that comes with recognizing that you are only a speck.  Because life does not usually exist in the zoom out, but rather the zoom in, which is incredibly overwhelming.

Zoomed in, I am actually everything, all things - especially in this home and to my family.  If I'm off center, the whole of our daily life is crooked a bit and everyone feels it.  There's chores and bills and the stress of our bank account numbers and worrying about loving the kids enough each day, and don't forget to schedule that appointment, and make time to write on the blog, and I can't believe a friend would share that divisive article on facebook, and how long has it been since the dogs got a bath, and crap, I need to order new photos of the kids for the grandparents, and why are we out of diapers again already?

"How Mom feels," the elusive 'they' say, "is how everyone feels."
In my day to day living, a speck is the opposite of how I feel.

I wrote about this idea of recognizing that each of us are only a speck in the vastness in my 25 Lessons for my Daughters post:

17. Remember you are just a very, very small part of this great big world
It's a harsh reality, sweetheart, but nearly everything that happens to you in your life has also happened to someone else. Yes, you are unique and wonderful and completely you - but this world and her history is so great and big that you are really only a teeny, tiny piece of a vast puzzle. You fit just right into the picture that we all make together, but keep an anchor in knowing that you are but one small part. When you forget this fact, it's easy to believe that your own problems are all-encompassing and more important than everyone else's. Sorry baby, but they aren't. Time marches on, my girl, no matter what happens to any of us.

And it's liberating to know that I am one of many.  So, so many.  One of billions of women.  One of billions of Mummas, one of millions of bloggers, one of millions of writers, one of thousands of people who call their favorite book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of the hundreds of people that woke up this morning and thought 'I want a biscotti to dip in my coffee right now so much it's bizarre." All the things that make up me, there are other people that are feeling, doing, experiencing, and thinking that too.  In no things am I alone.

and yet.
there is also no one else on the planet and in the history of the planet that has had all of those things that make up me all together at once.  I share all the things about me with billions, millions, thousands, hundreds of other people through space and time.  But no single other person has all of the things at once like I do.  And that too is quite extraordinary.

As I said in my post for my daughters:
18. Remember, too though, that your actions have never-ending ripples that will go on to affect people that you may never meet.
Even though we are each a very small part of this great big world, every action we extend to another person leaves an imprint. Try to choose kindness to which you react and distribute to others. It's no easy task to choose patience and kindness when others are not doing the same, but remember that you are in charge of your own ripples that will make their way out into the world. Make it so that when people think of their experience with you - it is with a smile and gratitude for getting to have crossed their path with yours.
So friends, on this Saturday morning while all three of my kids are still sleeping (!! joy of joys) and my coffee is still hot, I'll finish with this.

There is no us and them.
We are all just specks among other specks.
All of your worries and problems and stress is also being experienced by someone else, lots of someone elses.  Someone else that you might initially believe is a 'them' to your 'us.'
Nope, all just specks.

But don't lose sight too, that your speck is important and unique and singular.  Still just a speck, but an important speck.  Just like every single one of everyone else's speck that is unique and singular and valuable.

Just a drop in the ocean...but oh how our ripples float out.


  1. Dear Tabitha-there should be a rule in my house that I am not allowed to read "you know that girl I went to college with who I'm best friends with in my head" 's blog while I'm pregnant. Tears. Always tears. (And a healthy dose of self-reflection). You are an amazing speck. Thank you for the ripples this morning! Xox-Haley

    1. Haley!! this comment is everything to me. let's be best friends in real life. xxxo miss you!!

  2. I feel very (very, very) much like the CENTER of the universe currently as opposed to a speck in it, and the pressure that comes with feeling that way is crushing me. With no Josh around to help out or give me a break, I feel such a responsibility to be doing my best all.the.time. It's wearing me out.
    Then I read this, and another blog tonight (by an amazing single mama) and I was reminded that whatever I'm feeling (overwhelmed, inadequate, exhausted), I'm not alone in feeling that way. I am very much a speck among specks. And knowing I am one of many makes me feel less afraid of screwing it all up.
    Thank you, as always, for your brilliance. Your ripples are far reaching, my friend.

    1. Shelly - I am thinking of you always and sending you love and momma strength. you are such a blessing to your family (and to me as a friend) and I am touched that my post could have helped you on a tough day. you are amazing and can do hard things!! I'm always inspired by you xxox

  3. This post was so thought-provoking and timely. Mark and I were just talking about how we'd like to raise our children to know that the world doesn't revolve around them and YET, they are so wonderfully and uniquely made by God. To be a speck, but an important speck...

    1. I think our brains are linked somehow. nearly all of your posts are timely for me too. seriously kindred and so glad about it. xxox