My House of Belonging

reddirtlattes/ April 4, 2018/ Gulf Islands, Canada/ 1 comments


Fires still lit for early mornings and fading light at day’s end. 

Skies filled with a sometimes warm sun riding on still too crisp breezes. 

Spring seems to whimper in a corner as winter refuses to yield. 

But our rhythmic days have returned after the whirlwind tumble of school breaks. 

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the mediative quality of the island, but I find myself so deeply in love with routine these days.

It means everyone is well. It means the wheels are all turning. It means contentment. 

I used to bristle at sameness, ache for difference. For my days to scream like a crow’s caw. 

Now I long for and settle into, celebrate my days that look like every other. 

I cook and study and play and tuck in and wake and do it again and again and again, happily. 

It’s become like a dance. 

The place I come home to. 

This routine of my perfectly simple life. 

A very special friend of mine in NY recently sent me a book of poetry. (Is there a better gift from a friend than a book of poetry?)

In it David Whyte writes, 

This it the bright home

in which I live,

this is where I ask

my friends to come,

this is where I want 

to love all things

it has taken me so long

to learn to love.


This is the temple 

of my adult aloneness 

and I belong

to that aloneness

as I belong to my life. 


There is no house

like the house of belonging. 



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  1. Hi Sabrina, I have always needed order in my life; to be able to control my environment. I never thought of it as sameness, but I too bristled at routine. Even needing order, when I worked, my desk in my office was piled with papers, folders, memos, and other things on a desk. To a visitor, it was a mess. Yet to me, I could locate any piece of paper in a few seconds. To me, there was an orderliness to the scatter piles of my mess. When I retired in 2004, I came to realize that for the first time in 53 years, my life was not ordered by an academic calendar. Big change, and I liked it even though upcoming holidays still take my largely by surprise.

    I have kept myself as busy as ever, but the main difference, and a BIG DIFFERENCE, is that almost everything I do each day is because I want or have to do it, I create my schedule largely unencumbered by outside intrusions. I love it, because more than at any time before, I am largely in control of my day. I control the order. And my desk and study is still considered messy, but to me it is orderliness.

    To make sense of it all, I very quickly developed a routine. Three mornings a week, I go to play table tennis at a pretty high level, though not as good as I once was because of the limitations of an arthritic deteriorating spine. Many times I challenge and push to the limits of my body in ways most people would never dream of. It drives my wife and kids crazy our of fear I may hurt myself. But for me, I have always lived with calculated risk taking, playing around admittedly too much with fate. But it makes me feel vital and excited. Many other times each week, I go to the several doctors or take tests. Afternoons, health permitting, I garden, or in good weather and minimal pain, I ride my bike. Interspersed, I love to peruse certain big box stores. I still love to drive my car–provides a sense of freedom, though my clarity of vision in night driving is not as sharp, even though my regular vision is o-k. I always try not to schedule appointments on Wednesday and Thursday, so I can do whatever I feel like doing, even doing nothing and sleep as late as I want. Sometimes, I can’t avoid intrusions with an appointment those days.

    Interspersed, I write, go on my computer, read, check my voluminous e-mails and correspondence, place limits on scholarly demands and inquiries making use of my expertise, particularly in the Trump era and threats to our national security. Unfortunately, I pay a certain price with knowing too much to feel totally at ease with the state of the world.
    Because the things I have specialized in have always dealt with life and death consequences. It has provided a certain element of excitement and importance, but at the cost of also being a burden and source of anxiety. I have often wondered if by not knowing certain things or “too much” gives less comfort than in not knowing and benign or sometimes catastrophic ignorance. This may sound incongruous for someone to say who has devoted most of his professional career using and sharing his knowledge and meting out advice. But it wouldn’t surprise me if many of my former colleagues have had that thought every so often.

    Routine is a lifelong necessity to enable one to feel in control over their lives. Upsetting routine, for me, can be disconcerting, unless the change is something I like. My whole life will be upset in August and I have been looking forward to this for 11 years since my last grandchild was born. I am going to have my third grandchild, a boy, due on the same day as my 47 anniversary. Indeed, change is also necessary, particularly for an inquiring or adventurous mind. Looking forward is the treat or prize of confronting the presence.

    One of the great changes in your life for particularly you and for your husband will be the day that your last child leaves the homestead. Routines will become topsy turvy, (I think this is the 1st time I ever wrote that term). You will occasionally stare at empty bedrooms, come home and expect to be greeted by your kids, etc. greet or jump on you. And the aggravation of storing all their childhood things and their refusal to take control over them. A big aggravation. But soon, you will develop new routines, new adventures, and will delight in having the time to rediscover yourself and your mate and maybe reigniting a some of the sparks of your togetherness before you had children.

    You will realize there is a certain kind of circularity to living. Things that are new really tend to replace other aspects of your life that served the same purposes. The rhythms of time still order your life and that never changes. The changing of the seasons effect our routines and give us something to look forward to or to dread. With this, the element of uncertainty is always trying to navigate in our minds. Periods of sadness, failure, joy, and exultation still
    dominate our feelings and interiority.

    Yes, life seems never to be the same, yet certain expectations and impositions approach and confront us, going round and round like a circle. Circularity is a synonym for living a full life.

    Seymour Schwartz

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