On a good morning, the baby and I get out of bed a little early. On a bad morning, she will shout, crawl all over our faces and grab at charging cables (mostly to eat them) because her parents are playing a game of chicken to see who will take care of her first so the other can keep snoozing. On a morning where my better angels win, I snatch the baby out of the bedroom so Stephy can squeeze in a little bit more sleep.
Then, I start breakfast. I place the wee baby Shelby in her high chair facing me in the kitchen and make Stephy’s breakfast, usually a piece of toast with jam, a fried egg and ham, and my own—a cup of coffee (Stumptown via v60 hand drip). I put on a little music, usually my 60’s/70’s soul playlist (think Commodores, Al Green, Otis Redding, etc.) because there’s something special about Curtis Mayfield in the morning while the coffee is brewing. Shelby will dance in her high chair with me, and when she starts to get impatient, I sneak her a couple of cheerio-type puffs to snack on (don’t tell Stephy).
Shortly later Stephy joins us, makes Shelby an actual proper breakfast and a new day begins. For a few moments, before everyone has to clock in and start their day, we are in our own little world. Our days go by in a flash, from meal prep to clean up to play time to nap time and back again, all the while, working. Soon, we forget about the wild world outside of the walls of our little kingdom. When the only occasion to leave the house during the week is to take out the trash, it’s easy to get lost in our small town with a population of three.
Yesterday, I got my copy of A Promised Land, the new memoir by President Barack Obama, the first book I’ve pre-ordered since Murakami’s Killing Commendatore (I don’t like new books, I prefer to wait for the paperbacks). Quotes have been leaking in the past few weeks as editors get advance copies so I’ve been looking forward to reading more about what it was like to be in the hot seat during so many pivotal events in recent history and what it took to lead this nation through them. Just reading the preface and opening chapter has got me thinking about leadership, public office and a commitment to the common good. The desire to be a leader that I myself would be proud to follow has shaped who I’ve worked on becoming for as long as I can remember. Reading through President Obama’s humble origins and early experiences stokes a yearning within me, an ambition for accomplishing a wider breadth of good, that is central to who I am at my core.
At the same time, funnily enough, I’m making my nth reading through The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by the aforementioned Haruki Murakami. This novel, like most of Murakami’s, delves inward, and the scope of the protagonist is limited almost literally to the block that he lives on. Toru Okada spends extensive time alone and a good portion of that time is spent in complete isolation at the bottom of a dark, dry well. The words of these pages resonate with me too. There’s a quiet healing that comes from introspection and solitude. Murakami’s heroes spend a lot of time drinking coffee, listening to jazz and blending the lines between the real world and an imagined one. This aspiration is just as pivotal to who I am.
I suspect that my path in life will always rebound between these two Sunroot’s: the vision-minded champion and the melancholy bookworm. Maybe one day, I’ll learn how to recharge in my deep dry well so I can go get into some “good trouble.” I hope so. But for now, when I step back and reflect, I think I’m where I’m supposed to be. No matter how anxious I get, it’s hard to imagine being a leader outside without abdicating my responsibilities inside our little kingdom of three.
It’s hard to imagine not being home to clean Shelby’s food off the floors (and occasionally, walls) or making sub-par lunches for Stephy. Is it selfish to enjoy the weekend sleep-ins and groovy mornings with the dancing baby? I don’t know (I mean, it’s not like anyone is knocking on my door asking me to lead anything anyway, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself). So I’m going to enjoy this time. When that hunger for public service kicks in (thanks, Obama), I’m gonna remind myself of the words from our morning jams…
Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home
Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay