Who Am I If I Stop?

I was just vacuuming my kitchen, and I wondered: who would I be if I just stopped trying? If I stopped striving for better? If I just hit pause for an hour or a day or a month?

Who is that person that just is? Not the person who is trying to be something different?

I feel like I have no fucking idea what I'm talking about.

Except I feel certain that I'm talking about the only thing that really matters.


I was talking to a writer friend today about telling our stories. She mentioned that she was living in some fear of telling her own.

"Where are you right now?" she asked.  "With your stories?"  

"I don't know," I responded.  "I sort of feel like I don't have any to tell. I seem to write about ideas more than I write stories."

I'm not a terribly interesting person, really. Exciting things don't often happen in my world.

But I seem to see a lot within the mundane.

That is something.


I crossed the street this morning beside a young mother.

My kids ran ahead toward the farmers market, and this woman carried her toddler in her arms.

"Climbing the canon is the best part of the farmers market," one of us said.  There's an old canon on the town green, and every kid in town takes turns showing off their climbing skills.  My own kids are newly-obsessed, having felt confident enough only this summer to mount it.

"You'll be doing that soon," she said to her little one. I smiled at her, and we walked in opposite directions.

But I felt incredibly drawn to her. I wanted to know her, but was scared to be the stranger peppering another with questions: what's your name? Where do you live? Do you want to be friends? Do you have a husband? Would he get along with mine? Do you want to come over for dinner?

She walked away and I told myself that if I saw her again, I'd say, "Hi. I'm Emily. Is it weird that I'm just talking to you like this?  What's your name?"

A while later, as I walked down the main corridor of the market, she walked toward me with her child in one arm and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the other.

My pulse quickened.

I felt a lump in my throat.

I said nothing.

She kept walking.

I turned my head and looked behind me as she walked away.

It felt like a loss.


I don't know what my stories are. 

When I think about my story, I imagine it in the past tense, after I'm gone or when I'm going.

I imagine people saying things like, "She tried really hard. She was confused a lot. She always talked about how she felt. She was tedious sometimes, but I loved her."

I see my children, sitting around my white bed, looking at me.

To them, in these daydreams, I'm just a real person - not their mother, not anything other than a person, a person who lived a story that was woven with their own.