The Art of Staying Put

According to my mom, I was an oddly content baby, in that I didn’t wander. She’d set me down on the floor in the living room, and when she’d return I’d still be sitting in the same place she’d put me.

In many ways, I’m still like that: oddly content, staying put. I mean, every day I walk past the hospital in which I was born. I don’t always think about the fact I was born in that building as I walk by…but on the days that this does cross my mind, I’m filled with wonder. My first moments were right there! That just blows my mind. And then I kind of smile to myself, thinking that well, by all appearances, I certainly haven’t made it very far in life. Literally. Ha.

Over the years, I’ve seen many extraordinary people come and go from this community. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who remains in one place. It’s kind of an odd thing to do, isn’t it, to stay put like this?

In some ways, it’s the easy option. Living close to family means we don’t have to spend our travel dollars on visits to frindschoft. Also, not moving too much means we don’t have to, well, move. (Moving’s the worst! Or, so I’ve heard.)

But in other ways, it’s challenging to stay here. For example, I’m a bit of a strange person. And I’m sure there are plenty of weird embarrassing stories about me that many virtual local strangers could possibly know/remember about me, because they were there for my many awkward times 30 years ago. (Or yesterday. Whatever.) How does this tie into Mennonite-ism? Well, when I was a kid this kinda added to my embarrassment, in spite of being surrounded by other Mennonites. I was of the frumpier variety. I had that Low German accent, even though I couldn’t speak the language. (I think it’s become fainter by now, and sadly I can’t call it up automatically like some comedians can.) I probably often smelled like I was straight off the farm. I was extremely unfashionable and socially off. And many people remember me this way. It can be nice to be known…but in this case, I’d say it’s uncomfortable. It’s not a great thing to dwell on because there’s nothing I can do about it…but I have to admit, this idea has made me want to move away and never come back.

But then I think that all that would be, is an effort to escape myself.

But I like myself! And I want to own all the aspects that being a cultural Mennonite has influenced me in my life. It’s a huge part of who I am. So I think I will just continue to stay right here for now, in the midst of potential embarrassment…and strive to master the art of staying put.

(feature photo: me with the Holsteins on the farm, probably in 1981)