“I take meetings, I make phone calls, I shuffle paper around, and I have no idea what the hell I actually do.”
“Maybe if you did you’d like it more.”
-Amy Sherman-Palladino, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Partway through my MFA, I talked with a professor about “understanding.” “Understanding”—knowledge—didn’t really seem like the goal my readings and conversations and writings moved towards. My professor asked me what I was (trying) to move towards, instead, and at a loss for words, I eventually suggested “engagement.” I’m not sure if that’s “right”—I’m not sure if it needs to be—but every now and then I go back and wonder about it. Tonight my friend Ishita told me a story in which she, celebrating with friends, said happily that her core value was romance. A romance with the world. A resonating connection.
So many of the delights in my life come from being engaged: from noticing this as something that matters, that I want to pay attention to. I can hate sweeping, or I can love it when I feel the weight of the broom, hear the rustle of the bristles across the floor. Sometimes, when I pick up a new book, there’s a moment where I can’t get in yet. I don’t know who these names are, what world they’re in. If it’s nonfiction, I don’t know the perspective of the author, the contexts of the words they’re sharing. And then, when I keep reading, the book becomes a world that opens. Sometimes I’m sitting trying to write and my nieces come running up because I’m a dragon and it’s time to play tag. I get, of course, that sometimes there are good reasons to say “not right now, I want to finish this,” but I love the moments when I say “yes” and go running off with them—when I feel my stretching dragon wings—when their running feet aren’t a distraction or an interruption, but part of the place we’re sharing.
Maybe I should go back and tell that professor I meant “connection.” Or maybe I meant each conversation, each playful, confused, excited exchange we share, dancing together between questions and thoughts and the world in which we have them.