Most of the time I'm pretty relaxed. Erik's 900 piece lego set strewn across the family room doesn't bother me. Grace's muddy boots dropped casually in the middle of the kitchen floor doesn't faze me. Anna's mountain of papers is a mere molehill in the chaos of daily life. (Aside: Anna is attempting to write an abridged version of Lord of the Rings, including Questions For Discussion after each chapter: Why do you think the ring consumed Gollum? That girl is destined to be a schoolteacher.)
The dog barks at nothing. Someone thunders elephant-like down the stairs. There are two different songs playing in two different rooms, and Grace is spinning the Wheel of Wow on the Webkinz internet - and the sounds from all of this compete with Erik's sound effects as the good guys blow the bad guys out of the air in a Star Wars re-enactment.
It's the normal sounds of a happy household. And usually none of it bothers me.
But every once in a while it all overwhelms me. It's like all the activity, all the clutter, all the noise spins together so fast that it ceases to make sense and all I can do is focus on the tiny pinprick of white space at the centre of the vortex. That white space is a lifesaver. I fix it in my mind and expand it, pushing out everything else until my whole universe consists of nothing but white space and light. It's not a place to live - just to visit. And I never stay long - just long enough to take some deep breaths and rejuvenate before I slowly let the world back in.