Recently I took the chickens to the pet store. I envisioned a fun activity with which to fill a foggy February morning. I imagined the chicken’s delight at my suggestion of a goldfish to bring home—maybe two, if I were feeling particularly magnanimous. What a good mother I am, I secretly self-congratulated.
Chicken Noodle had other ideas.
Once we got there:
“I want a kitty!”
“How about a fish?”
“No, a kitty!” She leapt around in front of the kitten cages.
“But look at these pretty fishies, aren’t they wonderful?”
“I want a kitty, I want a kitty!”
I steeled myself for battle. Put on my calm reasonable voice. “Oh, baby, a kitty is a really big decision. I don’t think we’re going to choose a kitty right now.”
“I want a big decision, I want a big decision! Please, Mommy, can I have a big decision?”
How many times have I asked for something small and cuddly like a kitten and instead found myself in possession of something clawed and unwieldy like a big decision? Asked for autonomy, got responsibility? Asked for romance, got marriage? Asked for maturity, got wrinkles? Asked for a published book, got the job of writing and editing it?
At the moment, actually, I am kind of digging it. No, not the wrinkles. The book writing. It is prickly and unwieldy, that’s for sure. Not to mention speculative. But as once went a wise quote in an otherwise horrible movie, the name of which I’ve forgotten—“The hard thing and the right thing are usually the same thing.”
And you know what? I have learned so much already in the process of writing this book. Just this six-month project has made me a much better writer. I have learned a lot about myself, too. Who knew there was so much left to learn, ten years into this little writing career of mine?
A decade ago, I asked for something small and cuddly—the right to live as an artist, and forge my own path. And got something prickly and unwieldy—the right to live as an artist, and forge my own path.
Isn’t it beautiful?
But no, we did not get a kitten.