“If I wait a day or two something will happen, something will change…”
-Chris Glomski, poet, in a reading at UIUC
“Soon, Toad. Soon.”
-A Year With Frog and Toad
When I start wanting, I do a lot of wanting things to happen. I do a lot of wanting things to happen now. I want to finish editing Chapter 6 of my novel. I want to know what I’ll do after grad school. I want to find a thought in these words, clever and quick and maybe even a little funny. As a kid I used to lie in bed all eager for the morning’s breakfast. Especially if it was gonna be cereal and milk. As a kid I couldn’t stand not understanding. I really liked math, but I remember clutching my head like my palms could meet in the middle, staring at some equation and the paper where I’d already scribbled and erased and scribbled and erased and scribbled. And erased. I thought I had to figure it out. Now.
Soon, Toad. Soon.
Somewhere in my mid twenties, I was hit with the idea that I might never find my big answers. I studied philosophy in undergrad, puzzling out different ethical systems and how they worked. I might never finally understand which one makes the most sense to me, or how to hold a number of them, balanced against each other. I’ll never read all the things I meant to read, have all the conversations I meant to have, get to know all the people I’d like to share the years with. When I first had that thought, that image of a path that wasn’t leading to a clean end, it shook me. Better get listening. Better get meeting. Trying to finish.
There are other things to do. Toad’s planting seeds. Chris Glomski’s writing poems. There’s still a big part of me that would like to be certain, that would like to decide or know, but these two remind me to look down at the dirt. Look here. Seedlings. Changes. Another identity to try as I look for the equation’s derivative. A sip of water, or the pull of hunger. With television series (especially ones I only half like), I can be the kind of viewer who looks up spoilers, who checks when that awful character will finally get shuffled along. I remember being bored when my family went out to watch the sunrise, because I was cold, because it happened so slowly, because I hadn’t wanted to wake up so early. Now, imagining it, I wonder what I might have heard in the early morning. Wonder at the texture of the shadows around me, as they went from a close blurred blanket to a sharp hard edge. I’m even happy to think of my goosebumps, and the warmth that’s coming, slowly, and the sky, shade by shade, shade by shade, so imperceptibly and so completely I’ll be wondering about it twenty-two years later.