time as tyrant

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Sometimes, time seems like a tyrant when it should be a blessing. I have three weeks ahead of me that promise to-do lists, deadlines, and, most likely, yet another blast of unforgiving winter.

Even a stretch of lovely hint-of-spring days doesn’t seem like enough when the cold swirls around once again. An evening with a good book and good company pales when morning dawns, too much work penciled into a too small calendar square awaiting. Have a better attitude, I tell myself. Just keep swimming.

In the quest to live more simply, I have discovered rather quickly that a schedule, like an ocean liner,  does not turn on a dime. Things I promised to accomplish weeks ago are now glaring at me, demanding to be done. Unexpected requests wash ashore. The phone rings. Things break and need to be repaired or replaced. Other things just fall apart.

So what?

So … nothing. I have decided to stop and enjoy this time anyway. For the next few weeks, weeks when I have pressing business every single day (often into the evening) I vow to pause. I will use the camera on my phone to take a photo every day. I will take the time to notice life around me unfolding, blessing me with the gift, not the tyranny, of time. I will participate in that life because I am meant for more than just keeping my nose to an imaginary grindstone.

Of course this means I may  fail at one or more of my pressing-business-to-do list-items. I may fall behind on a project. I may miss an appointment.

Enough.

I am allowed to fail. I allow myself to fail.

The photo above is far from perfect. But when I looked up at this ceiling, I was comforted by its symmetry. There might be an order to this, it seemed to remind me, even if you don’t always notice it. The ceiling is white, but I filtered to shade it blue—my small attempt at painting the sky, at stepping out of my chaos and joining in the chorus if only for a moment.

Then today I paused to record this dusting of snow tucked inside last years blossoms. The flowers will be back, I tell myself. As will the rain, the air, the light.

And I will be here as well. Noticing.

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When I am 100, I will play with my dog

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Walking the halls of a local elementary school this morning, I paused to take in the bulletin board outside a third grade classroom. The kids have recently celebrated the 100th day of school and, as part of the commemoration, spent time imagining what their lives might be like when they reach their 100th year.

Each mini-essay stapled to the board was accompanied by an age-accelerated photo of the writer. Some of those photos looked eerily like little old men and little old women were gazing back from the future, ready to impart the wisdom of a lifetime to their younger selves.

One student wrote: “When I am 100, I will live in a nursing home with my friends.”

Another: “When I am 100, I will walk with a cane and play checkers.”

“I will wear odd clothes all the time. Also I will be dead.”  (ah, pragmatic!) 

“I will play on my iPod all day long.” (read: I will do whatever the heck I want to do, thank-you-very-much.)

“I will look like a zombie and scare all the children.” (hmm …)

“When I am 100 I will think about my Mom and Dad. I will play with my dog.”

This last one got to me, I admit. Because this child writer is the sort of child writer I was, and maybe still am. She owns an early awareness that the longer she lives, the more loved ones she will outlive. That’s not an easy thought to tote around elementary school.

She knows she cannot change this fact, so she will honor her loved ones by remembering them. But then she adds this intriguing line about playing with her dog. Maybe she’s imagining adopting a dog in her nineties, but more likely she is imagining herself, in her advanced age, romping with the dog she lives with right now.

Because dogs never age. Dogs are eternal.

Pippin (our family dog, seen above) is starting to show some gray hair. I, as a human, have not yet started to gray, so my dog’s gray hair sometimes makes me supremely uncomfortable.

Perhaps the best kept secret about making your way in life as a writer or artist is that you get to spend an extravagant amount of time with your dog. And I, having long passed third grade, already know that everyone ages. Everyone. All of creation. Even dogs.

Imagine for a moment a grown woman standing in a hallway on a Monday morning trying to press back her tears and not doing a very good job of it.

Why?

Because she loves her dog.

Yeah. That’s pretty much how my day started. Don’t worry. I’m good with it.

The same writer, near the end of her reflection on aging wrote this: “I will tell everyone that I love them.”

This is too good not to share—a prescription for right living, in the present and deep into the cave of old age, all from the pen of a nine-year-old.

You’re welcome.

When I am 100, I will play with my dog. I will sit with my daughter and laugh until I must cease laughing in order to concentrate on catching a breath. I will stretch. I will read. Write. Listen to music. Sing. Dream. Cry. I will tell everyone I love them.

I will do all these when I am 100. I did all these impossible things today, and all before breakfast.

And you? What will you do when you are 100? What will you do today? 

 

 

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