value systems

Friday, September 24, 2021

Dear Ethan,
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the power of small actions, and how to turn words into action. I repeat this in my head through the course of my day, and still, I have no answers.

A friend mentioned something that really stuck: how do I know what is true? Where does that feeling come from? She really ignited the core of my universal problem. The enormous indecision I face at almost every corner. What do I eat today? What do I say? What do I do? 

Most of my life, I’ve been content to let others make those decisions for me. Moving from institution to institution has let me realize that this is not a way to live a life. Often, I wonder why I rarely feel content with what I have. Wonder at the tenacity with which I move from one thing to the next, almost as though it were my form of truth. I start to wonder if this shiftiness, this inability to sit still, is a byproduct of capitalism. 

I had a talk with my friend Stephen once. We were supposed to talk about work, but what I was really asking him was for him to organize my life He spoke to buying a 3000 square foot house and then buying another one that was bigger, then a car and then trading it in for one that was more expensive. His life seemed charmed from the outside—beautiful wife and children included—but he was constantly in envy of his friend’s vacation house. Their boat. Their custom-fit bikes. 

As I was listening to him speak with so much authority about the things I should want, I realized how important it was for me to escape his value system and make my own. 

I vowed to work less and have the work be for myself. To keep my scrappy old car until it bit the dust. To buy a house that I could afford and consider it a beloved refuge, and challenge myself to not dream of what was just beyond. To let go of technology and what strangers told me were true about myself on the internet. 

The value that I find and create in my life is vast beyond the world of things. I find it in my stories, in the small victories of my baby tomato plants who never grew up, of the dark chocolate-colored squirrel who eats all the bird food. 
When you wake up in the morning, you wrap yourself up in your special blanket and are a mouse, a cat, a fish. I feed you delicacies spun out of air—sugar, dandelions, a three-course feast. At night, I tell you stories of dark woods and disappearing houses. You fall asleep with the word more fading into the distance, illuminated by the sound of crickets in the night. Your little foot beats like a rabbit against my knee, and I realize mine is doing the same. We both sleep with our heads stuffed under the pillow and our bodies flat as pancakes.

 In the morning, as we were watching Beetlejuice cartoons, you said, “Daddy! Come here. All my family.” 

You are my family, my joy, my whole heart. You are always enough.
Love, mom 

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