I am inundated with essays during this season. Really. Really. Really bad ones most of the time. To teach or not to teach the formulaic 5-paragraph-er is a debate in English departments that never retires. Endless arguments for and against this harmless little ditty ring in my ears when I cannot sleep.
Get over it, I say. Just teach it, I advise. It does no harm, and as I always compare it to a paint-by-number, it may just help a child see the purpose of an argument in writing. It's simple, clear, and well-organized. Just like I like my life to be, but never quite is.
But I started considering. What if my life were this: A 5 paragraph essay. Which paragraph would I be in? Am I nearing my conclusion? (I haven't done anything GRAND yet!) Am I merely in the first few paragraphs? (perhaps I'm about to stumble upon the next great invention?) Or, likely, am I somewhere in the middle trying to redeem the ramblings I've provided to this world thus far?
If at all interested, here's what I think it may look like in this poor form (my own editing and self-doubt included):
Life is an endless journey. Oh, God, that sounds so trite; I DO hang out with 9th graders most of the time, they undoubtedly creep into my psyche. Start over.
Born into this world thanks to two traveling do-gooders, who were a bit earthy and a tad under-refined, I bounced into their care-free lives like a tornado, aptly in Toronto--creating countless damages and a regret for not having massive insurance or a return-to-owner tag. Asking endless questions about the nature of life, love, and God, and carefully watching for visible reflections of said reality, I challenged about everything they had to offer. I still do. And by "challenged" I actually mean questioned, sneered, doubted, and disagreed with 99% of what they tried to teach me. Thus began my investigative tendencies into all that I've come into contact with. Or, all with which I've come into contact. Whatever. I try.
(First body paragraph)
My young adult years (yes, I've skipped the atrocity and delight of childhood, I only vaguely remember things like wearing black sneakers, eating liver and onions, and yelling a lot at my pesky younger siblings) were ripe with battles and laughter. Usually the latter occurring after said battles. I strived to learn how to defend myself against increasingly strong brothers, how to carve out a bit of privacy in my chaotic household (only 1100 sf, with 6 people!), and how to avoid getting grounded, or worse, causing my Dad to hide my curling iron. And I somehow also managed to find time to memorize lyrics to Duran Duran and delve into my fantasy world where I was a famous, hot singer, and boys everywhere worshipped me and (more important) wanted to "go around" with me. Oh, and I got good grades in math.
(Second body paragraph)
Then, my Independent Years. Yes, finally. At last. I got to pay my own bills, answer my own phone calls with my new 3-pound cell phone, and actually buy whatever the hell I wanted to eat. And stay out late. And date whomever I wanted to. Until I met Les Canadian (actually I met him in my young adult years, but that's another essay about childhood marriage), who led me seemingly at lighting speed to my next years as a parent, though there are those 10 years in between which are all a blur. An education? A career? All secondary compared to where I really desired to be (and was usually found): Out. Partying. Preferably with funny people. Or at least people who thought I was funny and good-looking.
(Third body paragraph)
Middle-adult-hood (is that even a word?) and beyond (I fear cutting myself off since my upcoming talent may be prophecy): Parenting. Sleeplessness. Complications in marriage. A real job. Daycare. Bills. Even more questions about the nature and reality of life, love, and God, mixed with serious doubts about the innate nature of humanity. I committed the ultimate test in bravado and ego: I created another ME. His name is Myles. He shares (poor little guy) almost everything I have, minus a vagina and boobs. He has my temper, my impatience, my timeliness, my freakish-control, my desire to know and question everything. And I find myself at a complete loss at how to teach this young human to undo the traits I've found myself stuck with, and often I just laugh in amusement at the humor of God. For now I have no doubt that he exists (God, not Myles). And because I didn't like, though I loved, the reflection of myself, I adopted another: Thys. Who became my test in selfless love. For to love another as if he is yours has been the most difficult challenge of mothering. The temptations to dismiss his bad habits as though they're not a reflection of me, to deny his suffering because we've given him so much, to interpret his bad manners and tantrums as if he owes us... cause many moments of doubt--the kind where I think we shouldn't have passed the hours of social-worker's questions in our "home study." I commonly (and metaphorically) slap my stupid ass for such thoughts, but I'll admit, they sure do happen.
Okay, so that paragraph was too long.
My life thus far has boiled down, again and again, to a trite phrase: Love is all you need. Yes, I'm resorting to Top-40 Pop-Rock songs to epitomize my learning. I think Jesus said it even better though, pretty often in fact he talked about loving well (love is patient, love is kind), and even about loving our enemies... Because amidst all the chaos and doubt and confusion of my thus far years, I am even more confident in his guiding me to become a more viable conduit of this love that seems to always be just out of reach. Can't get it, then do it. I try.