About That Shaking

Sometimes, when it’s quiet in my house, which is not very often because the dogs bark and the children bark at each other and sometimes I bark, too, but sometimes, when it’s quiet in my house–my sturdy house made of sturdy stuff–I feel a gentle shaking. I wait a minute. I pause. I assess. Is it shaking? Like, real shaking? Or am I just shaky. Like, is my bloodsugar low? Am I having an anxiety attack? And when I decide it is real shaking, as in external shaking, extrinsic shaking, objective shaking, I wonder next if it’s the Cascadia earthquake. The Big One. The 9 on the Richter Scale.

And I simultaneously roll my eyes at myself because the shaking is so small–so slight and unassuming–that of course it’s not the Big One. The last time I felt the earth quake, in, you know, the literal sense, there was a *BOOM* that rattled the windows like a fighter jet was breaking the sound barrier, and that was only a teeny earthquake, a 3 on the Richter Scale, which mostly no one noticed but I did because I was looking out the window and the glass shivered. So no, the rumble, rumble, shake like someone gently nudging your shoulder to wake you when you really should be up, that is not the Big One. And it’s only after these run-on thoughts and wondering and musing that I realize it’s the washer on the spin cycle. 

It’s the washer on the spin cycle. 

It’s the washer puttering on, working quietly in the background while we run around, barking. 

And then I wonder. How is it that a mundane machine, a little box for weary clothes and water, can move my whole, sturdy house? 

I have one hundred and twenty unread texts. And triple quadruple that number of unread emails. There’s a splatter of godknowswhat on the wall next to me–exploded ketchup packet, I think. Exploded ketchup packet, I hope, because otherwise I don’t want to know. I meant to put on a bra today, I really did. And I’ve meant and meant and meant to write more here on the blog rather than on the socials because this is a good discipline for me, and over here it’s mine instead of the Facebook’s, but that’s been an Impossible Task for Unknown Reasons. I’m sick with worry about What’s Next in my kids’ schools where the vulnerable kids are told by the school board majority to BUCK UP and QUIT YOUR FUSSING and something about bootstraps and bullies-just-do-that and you-know-it’s-really-the-straight-white-kids-who-are-suffering.

It’s 2:17 and I’m watching the clock because I need to pick up a kid at 3, but my brain is playing a robust game of TAG YOU’RE IT with all the things I ought to do with the next 43 minutes. Open the mail. Pay the bills. Drink my tea. Turn around the laundry. Scrub the toilet. Save the world. And probably zero of those things will happen which is why I feel rattled. Shaken. 

Which is when I wonder if the shaking is real.

Which is when I wonder if it’s the Big One.

Which is when I realize it’s just the washer. On the spin cycle. Gently rattling my sturdy house. 

Which is when I remember that even the small things can shake up a solid status quo. And that I am a small thing, rumbling and tumbling to make muddy, murky, soiled things new. 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
4 comments
  1. The kids – those kids that need it most – know a group of you stood up and fought for them. It’s not nothing to know, even when you lost, that people are there yelling on your behalf. That small shaking matters to them too.

  2. Thank you for talking about the shaking. It’s such a great metaphor for what so many of us who struggle with mental health go through! Is it real? Is it in my head? Is the WORST THING EVER about to happen?

  3. This reminded me of the story of Elijah when God was going to pass by. He wasn’t in the wind or the earthquake or the fire, but in a whisper. Keep whispering, Beth. Or, keep rumbling and tumbling in your part of the world.

    1. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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