Thursday, February 7, 2008

Signs and Portents

My spouse, poor man, has learned over the years that sometimes seeking shelter and riding out the storm is the only way to survive. Despite all propaganda, it isn't necessarily when I'm moody or irritable. Moody and irritable he understands and can handle. Usually all it takes is a large bag of chocolate and a litte alone time. He knows about wanting alone time and huge chunks of dark chocolate'n'blueberry bark. He lives with the Banshees too. He knows. It's my enthusiasms he dreads.

It's the days when I want to dig up the entire back yard and plant every variety of tomato in the Tomato Grower's Supply catalog (and believe me, that's quite a few.)

It's when I want to tear the fence down and replace it during one of his rare vacations. (It would be perfect! He gets to watch the kids while I do basic maintenance. What isn't to like?)

It's when I decide that the megalithic greenhouse that I'm dreaming of is just a tad on the small side, and while we're at it, let's add a larger heater as well.

It's when I opine that I need $$,$$$ to start a business. I like making soap. A lot. And I've had my eyes on this gear forever.

It's when I latch on to the monolithic dome website like a radioactive leech and start trying to teach myself architecture, layout, and interior design all in a single afternoon.

These are all signs of the impending apocalypse as far as my beloved spouse is concerned. I know I'm not going to get to do half of these things. Heck, my drawing alone is enough to teach me heaping amounts of humility. My mother could draw. I can weld. They're different skill sets and I despair that I'm ever going to get spatial relations down (on the other hand, I did teach myself to knit. It took me 25 years, but I did it!) I'm not going to get to plow the back forty with three small children on the property, not without chaining them to something large and heavy, a practice CPS actively discourages. And I know, because I handle the family finances, that $$ on soap gear is stretching it, much less !$$,$$$. I know it, and he knows it, but somehow he just can't relax about it.

Perhaps it's because I can't stop talking about it. My dh is a practical man; when he develops an enthusiasm he researches viability. If he can't do it, he develops a different enthusiasm. Me, I learn for the sake of learning. So it's unlikely I'll ever have the resources to pull together a coherent and cohesive monolithic dome drawing, let alone ever have the cash to build it. I'm going to know exactly how to put one together anyway. Just 'cause it's neat. And just because I have never known just what knowledge is going to come in handy somewhere down the road.

I had a nephew once ask me what I intended to do with all of the "useless knowledge" that I had accumulated. If he had started speaking in Javanese I don't think I could have been more startled. Useless knowledge? There is such a thing? But he was all of maybe 14 at the time, raised in a much different household than I was, and goodness knows the young man has his own personality and way of looking at the universe.

But still. Useless knowledge?? That just isn't possible. There's knowledge that I don't have a specific use for but that doesn't make it useless. If nothing else it makes me positively lethal at Trivial Pursuit. However, it's also very true that, as I said before, that no one ever knows when some small bit of knowledge, some kernal of learning, is going to synthesize with something else to create pure genius...or at least, the solution to the problem at hand. It has happened to me before. Carrying around all these disparate enthusiasms and boundless curiousities has helped me look at everything from raising children to raising Cain in a whole new way. New engineering feats aren't always born from numbers and isometric drawings; new scientific breakthroughs are as much about flights of poetic inspiration as they are about the known laws of physics or molecular bonds.

I'm not going to cure cancer. Heck, I can't even get the tomato seeds to germinate when I want them to. The house will never be a la Martha Stewart; it's a rare occasion when I can see a flat patch of counter space. But I have this boundless enthusiasm for learning and I hope, I wish, I want to be able to pass that enthusiasm on to my children. They may be the ones who have those marvelous, miraculous, legendary breakthroughs -- or they might be the inspiration for the person who will. They may be thinkers and poets and philosophers that have no great fame beyond their own family circle and as long as happiness and content are part of that circle, there is every reason to rejoice. Just as long as they inherit my love of learning, my enthusiasm for figuring things out -- their father's tenacity in the face of obstacles -- as long as they keep striving to learn more and loving every minute of the journey, then I will count myself a successful parent.

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