Four weeks ago on an early Spring Friday night we found ourselves sitting in the back of a packed college auditorium waiting to hear one of the freshest political voices of the decade.
Barak Obama found his way to the podium as students, faculty, administrators and guests gave him a rousing ovation in obvious admiration for his already strong legacy of thoughtful choices and decisions as a freshman Senator.
He "had me at hello"...smart, humble, clear, concise....thoughtful, purpose-driven and generous...a social advocate of the highest caliber I was ready to offer my services - in advance - of a 2008 bid for the presidency.
His statement on holding national office rang true with what we were experiencing of his candor and irreverence for pomp and circumstance when he said, "I don't care about the title of Senator...I don't want to be something, I want to do something." I sat back in my very comfortable auditorium chair and had to fight to stay engaged in what he was saying...rather than spin off into my own orbit of self-examination....so I took out my PDA and pulled up a blank memo to capture that sentence for digesting later, and went back to listening to one of the most riveting hours of nonpolitical musing on the state of education in this country that I, as a former teacher and school principal, had heard in a long time...but more on that in another blog.
In going back over, what became, a long list of bulleted "quotes" from that evening later that weekend, I again was stopped in my tracks by his statement that in essence said, "I'm not seeking to be something, but to do something..."
I have long been focused on the difference between living my life as a verb, rather than a noun. But Obama's comments demanded that I revisit how effectively I have been letting my own life articulate that philosophy.
For most of my adult life I was all about the nouns...or at least thought I was. I needed a child so I could be a mother, I wanted to be published so I could call myself a writer, I wanted a classroom and a group of students assigned to me for nine months... so that I could see myself as a teacher...you get the picture...without the permission of a noun (the right...or any for that matter ... person, place or thing) I was not validated.
My journey out of this noun-based thinking came through what Mary Baker Eddy refers to as the "stress of circumstances"....
In 1988, after years of longing and praying (while both single and married) to be a mom, I was finally blessed with some hope that my dreams would be coming true. My husband and I were asked to adopt an unborn infant. I would soon be a mom. I had waited for so long for a baby so that I could begin my adventure into the inner sanctum of mothering, what I knew was my native land, indigenous culture, and first language...mommydom...filled with lullabies, chocolate chip cookies, and Babygap. I had helped my parents (and later my widowed mom) raise my seven younger brothers and sisters and I knew I could do it...I had the skillset and the long playlist of lullabies in my toolbelt to get me started, and as a former elementary school teacher and principal, I knew kids. All I needed was a baby (noun) and I was good to go. Now it looked like I was finally going to get my chance to be a mom (noun).
After our son was born, I enjoyed some wonderful days of bliss with him before it became clear that his birthmother was reconsidering her surrender and although it took quite a long time for her questioning to become conviction, my peace of mind was shattered with her first indication of uncertainty. How could I go back to NOT being a mother?
Since this is a blog and not a novel (and you can always call or e-mail and ask for specific details if you are so inclined...it's a healing that I never get tired of sharing) suffice it to say she did finally decide to parent "our" son herself and I learned some valuable (more so than I could ever have imagined at the time) lessons on the importance of being able to "surrender" (verb) in the office of motherhood.
My healing essentially came when I ceased to think that I was waiting for a baby (noun) to mother (verb). To "mother" is a verb. It includes expressing the qualities of care, order, nurture, affection, support, joy, attentiveness, etc. Being the expression of these qualities is active...not passive. You can do it anytime, anywhere, with anyone....it doesn't require a person place or thing to validate it's right to be. To "mother" is to be a verb...qualities in action. I didn't need to wait to DO it...and in fact it was exercising my right to "mother" (verb) that brought forth the child (noun)....not the other way around (and that truly is another story).
I now share the mothering of our four daughters and one son with their birthmothers, their fathers, their step mothers and fathers, their partners, aunts, uncles, grandparents (birth and step), teachers, coaches, camp counselors, bunkhouse moms....the world family.
With the realization that being a verb was life...a whole world of opportunities and possibilities opened up before me. I stopped waiting to get published before I thought of myself as a writer...I was, and am, a writer because I WRITE (verb) and always have written... voraciously...and suddenly I found that I was being published....often!
I ceased to wait until we owned a house (noun) in the right location (noun) before I would invest in home improvement with all the design skills and talents I enjoyed expressing, but started improving whatever space I was in....my office, a friend's backyard, the rental house we were in...first by bringing in beautiful thoughts, then possibly (if asked) by sharing ideas for how it could be rearranged or maybe even how a change in paint color or a decrease in clutter could bring out the beauty of the space...and without realizing it we were in "our own" home making improvements and investing our time and talents more broadly...not more significantly or in a way that more fully demonstrated my sense of "home" but just a further and fuller demonstration of those verbs that were already fully validated by their utility...not through a facility!
And the list of verbs that gave birth to nouns goes on and on!!
This "principle" has been most fully realized in my career as a Christian Science practitioner, or spiritual healer...there was a time when I thought my "practice" was defined by patients....NOT!!!
My practice of spiritual healing is defined, determined, validated by the PRACTICE (verb) of spiritual healing...first in my own heart, life, thinking....by the way I look at the world and those around me....the way I embrace my neighbor, the way I act on calls from the global community to engage in making a difference spiritually, the way I nurture the children (all children...of any agelessness) in my home (consciousness)....and then the calls from patients come in....not because I am a Christian Science practitioner....but because I practice the science (in the laboratory of my life) of being (verb) Christian (verb....loving, honest...you know the rest) unconditionally...without the need for nouns....just be cause it is who I am....I am a verb...
Thank you Mr. Obama for the timely reminder....
Now I am looking forward to turning words like summer and winter into verbs....as in, I summer (verb) in the mountains and I winter (verb) on the beach....ahhh...can't wait to see how those verbs give birth to nouns!!! No more waiting for summer....camp all year round...heaven on earth!