Did you know that The Little Engine That Could can inspire tears? It did for me this morning, reading it to Talon on the couch. I choked up smack in the middle of “I THINK I can, I THINK I can, I THINK I can.”
Maybe I cried because I feel like that too-small blue engine pulling the toy-laden cars over the mountain—terrified that I will slide backwards at any moment. Or maybe it’s because I feel like the anxious toys at the bottom of the mountain—waiting for just the right engine to haul my ass to the other side of this hump.
It makes sense I feel a little desperate as a new mother, as the owner of a new business, as a tropical sailor landlocked in the northern mountains. That’s a lot of change in a short time. One year ago, Rob and I were in Thailand winding through villages on a small motorcycle with two outfits each, a beat-up guitar, and a lot of time to kill. Two years ago, we were wrapping up the last day of our decade-long careers at conservation non-profits in Missoula, about to embark on a year of exploration at sea.
This weekend, our baby turns seven months-old, and free-time and the sea seem like distant memories. I went from zero to 60 on the stress-meter over the past year. But what’s life without a little adrenaline? (‘Peaceful’ is one answer…)
Back to The Little Engine That Could. With Talon gumming away at the book cover, I had this chugging through my head.
I THINK I can wash all the dishes and vacuum the rug in between loads of diaper laundry.
I THINK I can manage all 7 contracts through my writing and communications business.
I THINK I can find time to write creatively and pitch magazines and brainstorm a novel.
I THINK I can get Talon to sleep longer than his always-only-30-minute naps.
I THINK I can teach a few yoga classes and still squeeze in a dance class.
I THINK I can hug my husband and genuinely listen when he talks to me.
I THINK I can drink a beer without falling asleep in my dinner plate.
I THINK I can shower more than once a week.
I THINK I can not kill the houseplants.
I THINK I can see my friends.
I THINK I can do it all.
But I can’t. That’s why I cried, because I realized my engine ain’t getting over this mountain in front of me. I hate backsliding. I get through each day with a lot of grit, and just enough grace to sometimes smile at passersby. I wake up each night in a sweat, my mind racing through all of the tasks I didn’t complete the day before. I’m rarely present in any given moment.
But if that damn little blue engine can make it over the mountain, so can I. It just means I have to take deeper breaths, and remind myself that I am not a superhero, and that I only need to climb one moment at a time. Some of those moments I’ll smile, and some of them I’ll grit my teeth as I chant: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”