I was on my annual family pilgrimage to midcoast Maine, a tiny hamlet where my parents took me starting at age 2, and where I am now bringing my daughter at 18 months when I noticed a short note on the arm of my friend’s wife—the place where you scrawl “Milk” or “Call Mary” in ballpoint pen so you don’t forget.
It said This is now.
Turns out it’s not a washable reminder but a tattoo she had made, in her own handwriting, after reading the concluding pages of Little House in the Big Woods. I’ve been turning it over and over these past seven days, like some kind of miraculously smooth rock, marveling at the way it captures both the forgotten magic and the seemingly insurmountable of everyday life.
This is now! It’s unfolding, temporal, and worth stopping to recognize: the little snorting sounds my kid makes when she falls asleep on my hip, nose stuffed with a summer cold; the business-owning, car-owning, house-owning, responsible, loving parents who used to play Dungeons and Dragons and Monopoly beside me on rainy days when we were all 8; the cottage where my family slept one week each summer, sharing a rickety bathroom, when my father was still alive; the picture window overlooking water and sailboats that I can look out of while I do my work, on my schedule, as I dictate. The great blessed freedom of that.
And this is now. The unexpected emergency room visit and ensuing convalescence I wasn’t counting on—it’s passing as I type and I feel better each day; the cold, dreary rain and howling wind that makes every rug and sheet clammy and unwelcoming—they’ll dry; the deep, gut sadness each time I read the news of war, of the shooting of kids—will this be the crossed line that forces a new kind of action? It could be. I hope it will be.
When I chose to leave my well defined, respected and generally understood career to start a new one of my own making it all felt very cavalier. This is now! I was going to do my own thing, make my own thing and it was going to be bigger and better than what I already had. It was mere days before my this was: unknown, unattached, undefined, uninspired. Scared. All in a very present and immediate way.
Two years have passed and I’m still making my own thing. It’s not like cookies. You don’t follow the recipe and get the result 16-18 minutes later. The making is continuous and the this in my now makes me want to jump up and down, and also just makes me want to jump. It depends. Worth paying attention to, I realize, is that they’re both passing, as they should be.