My desk in the new upstairs office I’m slowly creating is the mahogany dining room table I knew as a child. When I sat at it then, it was in the center of the room, and my focus was on what was on it. When I sit at it now, I’m at eye level with the branches of a massive dogwood tree outside the window and my attention is often drawn to what I can see outside. Today there is a squirrel in that dogwood tree whose “dining room table” has almost certainly been my yard for generations of his family. And now we’ve made eye contact and surprised each other, me looking out, him looking in.
I think my old mahogany table/desk is to me what that dogwood tree is to him. Both vantage places offer the security of the familiar, and allow us to feel emboldened to pause and study things we’ll never get to physically explore because they’re too foreign, too dangerous, too far away in distance or time, or simply incomprehensible to us. The squirrel has no understanding of my desk, and never will, and I can’t climb to the top of a tree, and never will; but unlike him, my ultimate exploration will be a “forever” instead of a “never.” The Bible says,”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for him.” Someday, the secure support of the old and familiar won’t be needed anymore, and as much as I enjoy it now, I won’t mind at all!
People commonly speak of “wearing different hats,” indicating playing different roles in different contexts. I might describe myself as a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, pianist, retiree, gardener, artist, singer, author, or writer, depending upon what I was doing at the time. My business card says “Research and Writing Consultant.”
Many years ago, I collaborated with someone who had a doctorate in history to write a high school US history textbook for a major publisher. He resigned from the project before it was finished, and the senior editor combined that man’s contribution and mine, and added a great deal of her own, and published the book with no authors, just herself as editor. I felt slighted at the time, but she was right–for that book, I was a researcher, not the writer. Later, personal experience articles I wrote were published in Guideposts and elsewhere with my tag line, and academic articles were published online and in professional journals; but none of the six or eight books I’ve written has been published–yet. 🙂
I don’t know, and I don’t know if it matters. I just need to make sure I show up with the right hat at the right place. At 11:27 last night, I sent off a 99,968-word manuscript of a novel I wrote, to be considered by a publisher. At that moment, I felt very much I should go out and get a hot fudge sundae and wear my author’s hat.
But today is Mother’s Day, and I’m happily calling myself a mom. Get out the biggest hat!
What are you doing when you “wear your biggest hat”?