I came home to find her lying on the couch with only the light in the neighboring room on, her laptop shining bright in the living room. Without my glasses and in the dark, I couldn’t tell she had headphones on, the noise-canceling ones she bought used a few weeks ago. Sera spends a fair amount of time on her computer throughout the week, so this wasn’t terribly uncommon, save the silent response to me opening the door. She was studying. She hadn’t studied, as far as I knew, in weeks, but talks often about needing to for her online college degree program. It weighs on her laundry list of backburner tasks.
Maybe as few as five minutes before she arrived home from work, I left to take a night picture I’d been thinking of. I took the boys (the dogs), as it was easy to walk them on the same errand and they appreciate longer walks. I must report that my intended shot didn’t turn out well (see below), but that’s not the point; Sera and I spend most of our overlapping free time together, and there exists an unspoken assumption / expectation that if we’re around each other, we’ll be spending time together. Without much of a social life myself, and having fallen into this trap before, I realize how detrimental overlapping lives can be.
Especially if I’m home when she returns from work, it would be just slightly rude of her to kick her shoes off and go study, ignoring me, even if that’s what would help her feel less stressed and more accomplished. I wouldn’t be offended by her wanting to study in the slightest, but I wholly understand what a barrier to getting started advocating for herself can be. So, when I arrived home, and she’s already studying, the reverse is now true; it would be rude of me to interrupt. The barrier to her studying has been lowered, and if we’ve learned anything from climate change, it’s that small changes have significant consequences.
Sometimes in life, encouraging someone to do something even they want to do isn’t the course of action that leads to its execution. Sometimes, you just have to remove barriers. Sometimes, that barrier is you. These sorts of subtleties aren’t often readily apparent, and this one is just that, but having the reverse order of home arrival pointed out exactly what I needed to know. Remove or lower the barriers, and motivated people will take care of the rest.
My shot from tonight was near the grocery store a few minutes away on foot. The railings have lights in them, and there are multiple sets of stairs. Enjoy.
OK, ok, here’s another shot taken of the same stairs.