Sometimes I can’t turn it off.
The hum in my head keeps swift tempo with an ever changing list of do’s and don’ts, subtly morphing philosophies, absolutes, critical warnings, and mothers who are jealous for the long gaze–the one that notices gold flecks in brown eyes. I try to be the best me, the best parent I can be, the best wife. I reach for best and catch only the space where it landed last. Best flashes in front and behind, sometimes close, seeming to change with my mood, or what I read on the Internet, or what I believe about myself. It looks like something I can touch, but it is only light–bright, free, and illuminating.
Still, I go after best. It guides me and keeps me focused. It reminds me that total wholeness exists in another place, just not here–not now.
Sometimes I can’t stand it–the endless pursuit of best, the way I put all my effort towards being the best I can, only to find out there is always something–someone–better.
I make choices for my kids so they will have the best education, the best food, the best experiences. Then I consistently follow through with less than best, putting them in front of a TV instead of a book, feeding them snacks instead of whole foods, shortchanging them on best over and over. With every failed attempt to grasp hold of best, my hands take hold of something solid and strong. I want best, but what I get serves me better, and I’m learning to desire some things above best.
Authenticity opens the door wide for a neighbor to enter and creates friends out of them. It connects us in a way that best can’t, ridding relationships of measuring sticks and pretenses and formal invitations. It means that when I fall short of best in front of my kids, I own it and invite them into my process of making right. Authenticity has no finish line, no distant goal that raises eyes over small heads. It doesn’t demand my best, just the truth. Presence grounds me in my time like best never could. It meets me where I am, holds my feet to the soil, and turns my face downward towards my kids who haven’t yet learned that the future is a thing to covet. I can’t see the earth spinning from this vantage point like I can while looking fast forward, but I can see the reason the earth turns in little brown eyes.
Tomorrow is better when I am present for today.
Purpose keeps me in fervent pursuit of best, knowing that the pursuit itself is meant to be life giving and fulfilling. Purpose doesn’t compete with best, but makes the journey meaningful–understanding that in this life, the road is king and the destination, just that. When the hum starts reverberating to soul level and has me chasing best as if I’m capable of owning the sun, I avert my eyes from the direct light and see what I can see in its glow. I’ll keep going after best, not to catch it, but to follow.