Developing Will

At almost 15 months, M is developing her will. She concentrates intently on stacking and sorting, throwing objects and retrieving them, making messes then attempting to clean them up, unpacking books from shelves, taking spoons, bowls and cups from drawers and pretending to drink or stir with them. It's all learning through play. Much of what she does makes no real sense to me. I have no idea why she spends ten minutes earnestly taking a lid on and off a container. There is no goal in mind... and how refreshing. She is simply doing what she does because she is curious, playful, learning through her hands and body to be in the world with no thought of time or consequence. She is a real role model for writing and creativity!

Along with her tasks, M is quite vocal and willful in other areas as well, including but not limited to, the putting on and pulling off of socks, hats, gloves, shoes, pants, shirts, sweaters, jackets, diapers and, in general, anything too restraining like car seats, strollers, and sometimes, my arms. These are non-negotiable tasks clearly.  And it is a dramatic scene when I need to interrupt her self-given task in exchange for one of these other tasks.

I can relate... it is similar to when she wakes from one of her very short midday naps these days and I may happen to be writing.

This is not distracting... is it?

Writing is all about the will. For one, there are so many other things one could be doing. So many other (mostly unnecessary) distractions. And, of course, these days I have a natural 15 month old distraction of love, patience, humor, frustration, and will power.

Writing is building up the will, piece by piece, word by word, or as Anne Lamott wrote, bird by bird. So are M's tasks. Stacking her cups, she is building her will incrementally. In my writer's notebook, there is evidence of the will to write, the will to love, the will to believe, the will to dream, the will to not despair in dark times, the will to keep going, the will to finish something started, the will to let it go, the will to understand, the will to listen, the will to be still, the will to act, the will to create.

The will to create at work.

Descartes thought the intellect was finite and the will was infinite. It would be good to remind myself of that notion when talking to my toddler.

Relatedly, C and I saw the movie Phantom Thread and I laughed to myself thinking about all the times I am interrupted in any creative task, and if that was an acceptable excuse or one that caused me great anguish as it did the character of Reynolds Woodcock played by Daniel Day Lewis, than I would cease to be a writer for lack of uninterrupted time. Parenting a young child teaches one the art of working in short spurts of time - sprints not marathons as I might have once done. There is some good to this, however, as I cannot perseverate on my self-doubt as I used to, I can let go of things that aren't working more easily, and on most days, I will my butt into the chair faster with no expectation to outcome.


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