As much of the country experiences unseasonable cold, it’s 80 degrees and climbing in Western Kentucky. The sun is out, but rain clouds keep sneaking across the blue sky. They’re trying to gather in the corners and get organized. I expect it’ll be pouring by this afternoon.
I’m seven weeks post left knee replacement, and thankfully, the whole surgical experience is beginning to feel like a distant memory. I want it even more distant, and I want my physical and emotional reserves to come back online. I want that yesterday. I want a long stretch of just being able to live, without thinking about how I get out of a chair, how I walk, whether or not I’ll be able to sleep, and my overall health. The thing is, that level of improvement takes time. It takes time, and rest, and restoration, and increasing distance from the event–without new events intruding to drain down the strength and resistance I’ve been able to build.
This week, I’ve been pondering extending this metaphor to our national consciousness as we grapple with the politics of inclusion and exclusion, institutionalized racism and discrimination, and letting go of what “always has been” in favor of what could be, and perhaps what should be. With the 24-hour (30-second, it seems) news cycle, the internet, and social media, many people–especially people on the front lines–never have the time time to rest and restore. There is always another situation occurring, another injustice to address, another assault, another attack. The people being attacked never have the luxury of letting down their guard. They never have the space to breathe.
With this in mind, I have a new mission in my writing, amongst all the others I’ve developed over the years of tapping keys and weaving tales. I want to create books that give people–all people–that space to breathe. I want people who need respite to be able to lose themselves in my stories for five minutes, for one hour, for a few days–for however long they can, however long they need.
I think we as children’s writers, can play a key role in provoking quiet thought, in suppporting positive change, and in illuminating peaceful paths to both rest and restoration.