The Way of Miracles

Miracles

Walt Whitman, 18191892

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?


Each new month of 2017 has shocked me.

Is it that way for you?

I cannot believe it is June 6. We are definitely in the summer routine of staying up later than we mean and in turn sleeping more of the morning away that I’m comfortable with. I do enjoy the pause from our normal routine, though.

Still, I feel like I have a tiger by the tail.

I find that parenting teenagers is a lot like that. I cannot believe that I have three of them. One is mostly on her own, writing brilliantly and forging her own way. The other two are busy bees who like to spend their days active, on the go. There’s so much to do with them and for them. They are my tiger. 

I find myself missing the days when parking a lawn chair in the backyard next to the sprinkler was summer.

Fortunately, I still have one of those.

Liam, at 7, is at quite the fun age. I am getting lots of time with him,  me and my last little one. My little one who talks like a teenager.

“It’s just a prank, brah,” he says when he squirts me with the water gun.

“What’s for dinner, yo?” he asks when he’s hungry.

“I’m just a boy who likes zombies,” he says when I beg him to stop talking of the *zombie apocalypse because zombies aren’t real.

I did introduce him to Elmo in Grouchland and he LOVED it, so that’s a win. It is funny how we rush that first child along then beg the last one to just slow down on growing up.

Today I am I am declaring this the Summer Worth Remembering. Liam is at the perfect age for making memories, so we will do just that.

I considered asking him what he’d like to do but it turns out it’s about me not him.

There are certain memories from my childhood summers that I hold dear, and feel are quintessential summer activities. It’s easy to get sidetracked, though, by LISTS and THINGS and MUST DO’s.

Grown up stuff can really ruin summer.

In order to make this a Summer Worth Remembering I am declaring my intentions here, so that you can hold me accountable:

I, Kara Krieg Shepherd, do hereby state my intentions to make 2017 a Summer Worth Remembering by committing the following acts:

 

Ride my bike with no hands or feet – perhaps while going downhill.

Turn a summersault in a lake or pool.

Eat more popsicles than my stomach could possibly hold in one siting.

Catch fireflies.

Float on my back for such a long time that only me and the sky exist.

Catch a fish.

Squish mud between my toes.

Throw that same mud at my children.

Eat an ice cream cone, late at night, after a long day swimming.

Go to the drive-in, or make one in my backyard.

Make some cool stuff out of stuff I was going to throw away.

Have a lemonade stand in the driveway.

Visit local museums.

Drive somewhere new using only a paper map for navigation.

Get a new tattoo.

Write an amazing story.

Play in a rock bed creek, maybe for hours.

Make a new friend.

Wear kookie sunglasses.

Go to a karaoke bar.

Have friends for dinner without cleaning the house first.

Sing around a campfire.

Skip rocks on a lake.

Get sick on a fair ride.

Watch kids ride a fair ride.

Redecorate my bedroom.

Worry less.

Dream more.

 


 

The hardest part about being an adult isn’t really the responsibility. It’s the idea that responsibility means fun is thing of the past, something to be remembered. It’s the embittered mindset that miracles are for other people.

Shoulds and have-to’s can start to weigh you down if you’re not intentional about how you spend your time. Already I feel the calendar dictating where my hours I go.

I’ll not be having that, at least not every day.

My childhood summers were filled with wonder – and there was rarely a calendar telling me what to do. Most days I woke up not knowing or caring what day of the week it was. An early morning bike ride usually got my day going. Sometimes I would ride up to the donut shop in my neighborhood for a warm donut. All I needed was a quarter and a dime, the couch willingly donated every time. 

Some days I stopped at my best friend’s house, throwing rocks at her window til she woke up. We’d ride together for donuts, or stop at another friends house to get the day going. Often our crew was assembled before noon, riding from house to house, eating the cabinets empty. Some days one of the mom’s would take us to the pool, probably in hopes that we’d stop eating all their food.

I remember skinned knees, dirty fingers, the smell of chlorine, and streetlights telling me it was time to go home.

It was the best.

I also spent a lot of time alone. I read. A lot. Sometimes I’d read two books in a day. Some days I just laid in my bed staring out the window, watching the sunlight play off the leaves outside my bedroom window. I can still remember how my room looked in the early morning light versus in the late afternoon. I can recall with perfect clarity the way the handle bars of my bike, the Sky Queen, felt when gripped in my hands. The feel of lake water surrounding me when I dove from the floating dock, the dark liquid like a night sky, the fish aliens from another planet.

It was all my favorite.

It was all a miracle. 

 

My brothers, Mom, and I circa 1983

 


 

What kids are great at, the thing adults seem to lose sight of, is being in the moment. They don’t think about the next thing on their to-do list. They don’t fret that an activity won’t be fun, unless said activity involves a waiting room or distant relative. Kids just know they’re going to have fun because kids ARE fun.

Except when they’re hungry or need a nap. Then they’re not so much fun.

My point is that life is meant to be lived to the fullest. The calendar wasn’t invented to rule us, but to give us rhythm. We can choose to see the tasks that are written in the little squares as things that have to be done or things that we get to do.

The only obstacle in front of my Summer Worth Remembering is me. I can put myself in the frame of mind to take joy in the tiny miracles each day holds, or to see each 24 hour period as a time to meet my responsibilities. It’s up to me.

One way will leave me feeling full, the other will leave me feeling weighed down.

One way will have me waking with wonder-filled thoughts, the other find me waking slowly with a slight creeping dread.

I’ve dealt with both decisions, and know which I’d rather choose.

I choose the way of the miraculous.

 

Be brave, misfits. Choose to see the miracles, big and small.

 

 

 

 

 

*he does not watch zombie shows. He does play Minecraft and enjoys those zombies. Also, his siblings (and maybe his parents) occasionally hold discussion on what to do in the event of a ZA. I regret some of these things.

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