This is the view from our new dishwashing spot. The blossom has come and gone in the few months we’ve lived here, I look at these trees and ponder roots and growth and the people walking past. How long have they lived here? Are they rooted in this place? Sometimes I’m curious, sometimes I’m in my own thoughts, sometimes I’m overwhelmed. Starting over, even in a city that was home before, is not easy. I’ve looked out on the neighbourhood and wondered how I’m going to meet people, where will I belong, how do I even start?
Paul and I talk a lot about being intentional which, to me, essentially means owning the decisions we make about how we spend our time, money, lives. In South Africa I wrote myself a list of questions to check-in with every month or so to see if we were living life the way we wanted to:
Who are you sharing meals with?
Who are you being mentored by, and who are you mentoring?
How are you engaging with your neighbours?
How are you spending your time? Does life feel too busy?
And so on…
My plan was to check in with myself at the start of each month. And what a lovely plan that was, so far I’ve found the list in my journal, but there’s been no check-in (can I still blame the fog of transition?). Life is busy, and changing, and it is hard to find brain space to think about these things. But I still want us to be deliberate in our choices, I’m reminded again that it is all too easy to let life happen to us instead of consciously creating it.
I recently told a friend stories about getting to know people in the neighbourhood. There was the time I was locked out of our building (hungry and needing the loo), and a neighbour gave me a key to the close door and said I could always knock on his window to get in. Then there was Ronnie, whose business I visited to get the key copied, who introduced our toddler to his pet chameleon Boy George. There was the gregarious lady who helped stop the car when I forgot to put the hand break on. And there’s my new friend around the corner, who kindly looked after my boy at the last minute to let me get to an appointment. After listening to these tales, my friend pointed out that each of these connections came from things not going to plan.
I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself to make right decisions at each turn, building good foundations. However, instead of the hard graft of ‘intentionally’ laying the groundwork brick-by-brick, I am finding the image of putting down roots more helpful. Growth is gradual, invisible, and not always conscious. Yes, our lives are built by the everyday choices we make. But I realise that this underground growth happens naturally, and I need to trust the slow process of new beginnings. Plans going astray become possibilities and my roots spread a little more.
We get to choose how to respond to our circumstances, how to live our day-to-day. When I meet obstacles, I hope I can grow around them like roots around a stone. As I try to posture myself towards meeting people and building community, hopefully each encounter will become part of my growing story in this new place.