Making Sand Castles

There is such a comfort in the quiet mornings. E. still asleep downstairs and Leonard curled up on the rug. The space heater blowing and now and then a blackbird call puncturing its white noise. A cup of good coffee and the feel of my keyboard’s small squares pushing back in a weirdly satisfying way. This cheap keyboard has only a few white letters intact: Z, X, Q and the Norwegian letters. This makes the act of typing feel intimate.

It is an odd way to leave a mark on the world. I seem to be preoccupied with this idea the past year: leaving a mark on the world. I think it’s an idea worth exploring. Yesterday while walking Leonard around the neighborhood, I was listening to a Hidden Brain podcast episode about “stuff”. About possessions and how we infuse them with emotions and then cling to them. He talked about how we even do it with possessions that don’t actually exist: we buy and cling to virtual objects in virtual spaces.

The host and the guest experts discussed why the rise of industrialization has given us the opportunity to indulge in our “stuff” habit. They talked about baby blankets and knick-knacks. But not about our children’s macaroni art on construction paper… or poetry. They didn’t talk about the “stuff” we create ourselves. I am wondering if it isn’t a very different impulse to cling to these things.

I am curious how the drive to create that is so strong in childhood in most of us, seems to abate with the years, until we hit – I don’t know – my age? I haven’t researched it, but what little I’ve incidentally read on the subject usually blames social restraints, shaming and capitalism’s focus on time-as-money. We get sorted out and the culture determines which of us are “good enough” to take an ostensibly creative space in the community. The rest of us, if we continue, apologize for our amateur efforts or keep them entirely hidden.

But I have no idea if this is actually true. I wonder if the impulse to create is nothing more than a way to subject the world to our will. To turn a bucket of sand into a castle, like magic. There is no need to “say” anything by doing so. It just is a tiny bit of the world, transformed by a specific human’s will.

I matter. I can change the world.

I’ve been dealing with the fact that I’ve become something of a cliche. I always have been, I suppose, but this is a new shape. This middle-age (which is past the middle of a life-span) craftsy space. A post-menopausal drive to regain some feeling of relevance by “making things”? Isn’t that what they say?

But I wonder if it isn’t that at all. I’ve never valued myself in terms of motherhood. What if it is really more related to a need to assert our independence (as small children do). Not as compensation, but as the liberation from all the weight that was put on us once our efforts began to be evaluated by a community in terms of “worth”?

I am still here. But for a limited time to come. Look how powerful I am. I can make a book. I’m unique. Just like everyone else.

I matter. I can change the world.

every cat knows
every box is meant to be
tried on and explored
scored and chewed on like deep thoughts
and scattered throughout the house


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