necessity and distraction

Sometimes I feel like I'm always preparing to live a life I never end up living.

Just think, for instance, about why we love bookstores so much. Beyond the quiet ambiance and the wealth of inventory, deep down they represent a life in which one takes the time to actually read the books she owns. The sadness of the bookstore to me is being surrounded by all the lovely ideas and knowing I will actually read so few.

Then I browse through Pottery Barn Kids or Crate and Barrell, looking at pristine furniture arrangements and wanting a home that's beautiful--but even more a home that's somewhere I want to be at the end of the day. A home in which the comfy sofa is loaded up with my husband's friends, drinking beer and watching OU football. A room for my daughter that invites her to play and imagine as she wakes. I could go on about how shopping at Whole Foods inspires me with the possibility of tasty and artful dinners accompanied by the Amelie soundtrack and a soft candle-lit glow from the setting summer sun, or about how shopping in the Michael Olaf catalog wakens my dreams of being the kind of mother that enjoys hours of playtime with her clever and well-developing children.

But when I come to my day of rest, what do you think I am most drawn to do? Go somewhere else, either for a meal or to shop for more things that can give me the life I always dream of living. So it occurs to me that perhaps those things are less necessity and more distraction than anything else.

Lately I've been really trying to enjoy what we already have, from the food in the cupboard to the gazillion toys to the threadbare sofa, and I'm shocked at how unnatural it feels. At how much discipline it requires.

Here is the list of things I could actually use, if they could be purchased in a bottle:
  • the action to invite our friends over, even when I feel tired or "not in the mood"
  • the realization that my daughter could use an hour of fun play time with me more than any book or toy
  • the discipline to keep the t.v. off late and night and instead pick up my book
  • the presence to savor our mealtime at home together as much as a trip to a restaurant
Everything else seems, in this moment at least, like accessories--not the actual stuff of which life is built.