We moved when I was in second grade, over Christmas break. This meant starting at a new elementary school in the middle of the year. My world suddenly got bigger. Instead of walking to school, I rode the bus. Instead of a traditional classroom I was in a shared classroom with multiple second grade classes sharing space barely divided by moveable walls, and small reading nooks. The classes were on a staggered schedule, with different start and end times for various groups in the same grade.
I was one overwhelmed kid in that arena. I nearly missed the bus home the first day at that new school. Too much noise, too much input, too many kids, too much to keep track of.
Add in the fact that we hadn’t yet discovered that I needed eye glasses. That made this new noisy world fuzzy at about five feet away in any direction.
The one thing I remember focusing in on very clearly was story time. The teacher was reading “Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mesmerized within the first paragraph or two, I sat entranced, absorbing every word. I lived for those few precious pages our teacher read to us each day. I was so spellbound that I started reading these fourth grade level books as soon as I could talk the librarian into letting me check one out.
I loved the world Laura inhabited. Even the difficult things she dealt with didn’t deter my desire to live her life in the wild countryside. It was a small, manageable world with daily adventures and the perils of nature and society ever-present.
Fast forward a few decades or more.
I am not naïve and brainless. I don’t spend my time watching reality TV or sitcoms. I consider myself informed, well-read, educated, literate, book smart, experienced in the school of hard knocks. I’ve lived through more than a few things, survived a few close calls, I know what real life dishes out. I’m no second grader, not any more.
Since I started blogging, my reading and learning has expanded. It’s as if, once again, I’ve been transported to a new school, with a new curriculum, in a world that never sleeps. I’ve read blogs from all over the world, learned about things I never dreamed existed, followed the rants and responses to topics that amaze and fascinate me. CNN, BBC, NBC, PBS et al have nothing on bloggers and writers and their ability to inform, entertain, enlighten and share and touch raw nerves.
Here’s the thing. Instead of a lovely, manageable novel or two of a tiny world, I’ve stumbled upon the entire planet. At least it seems like it. Suddenly I am feeling guilty for the life of ease I live as I realize someone in Pakistan or Ghana or Croatia is reading my words, my life, my wonderland. I marvel at the audacity of Americans to think they are the center of the Universe and somehow qualified to make decisions for the rest of the planet. I am breathless as I learn of tiny countries and the families and people that live day-to-day, hand to mouth, oblivious to the worries I think are important. The foundational ideas that make me who I am have developed a few hairline fissures as I’ve tried to balance other world views on the same ground. The ridiculous and the sublime compete for my time and brainpower.
I hover between two desires. I want to go back to having no eyeglasses, the world a vague and fuzzy place like it was four months ago. And I want to miraculously have laser vision, a flying cape and super powers, endless resources, time and energy to save, help, lift, care for and make an impact.
There I am thinking I have something to contribute having barely skimmed the surface of information. Silly me.
I want to go back to focusing on my tiny family of six, or my expanded family of sisters and brothers and parents, or even my extended family with cousins and aunts and uncles. I want the ease of worrying over people in my small community and trying to find time for a few friends who need a listening ear or a friendly face.
I barely manage to work, fix dinner, do laundry and keep the house clean. Occasionally I’m able to help out a friend, call a sibling, touch base with someone I feel a responsibility toward. If I gave up sleep I still couldn’t care for all the people in my life I want to care for, love, share with and spend time around. How can I possibly do anything with all this new information, this new sense of weight, responsibility and worry I have for the rest of the world?
The genie can’t be stuffed back into the bottle. And, unfortunately, I can’t make a wish and have phenomenal cosmic powers.
Here is one itty bitty woman with tiny resources, 24 hours in my day, with a new weight trying to settle in on my shoulders.
Part of me wants to disconnect from the internet, move to a distant, isolated tract of land and simply live a small quiet life. But I can’t. Even if I could, I couldn’t.
I’ve heard the stories, I know they’re out there. Reality is too real. I am lost and probably about to miss the bus again.
A good book isn’t going to give me a grip on anything at this point. Maybe I just need to step back, clean off my glasses and try to pull things in to focus.