Nov 27 2010

48 x 24

Today is my birthday. Most of the time I don’t make a big deal out of this day, I see it simply as the day after yesterday and the day before tomorrow. But this year it is bugging me, a little.

Bugging me because I am now 48 and my son is 24 and that makes me exactly twice his age.

Why is that bugging me? Part of it is simply the implication of aging that comes along with it, but I think the other part is me, thinking back to when I was 24.

Back then, being 24 was so much different than being 24 is now. And I wonder about that, too.

I got married (the first time) the day after I turned nineteen. And then a few years later I went to college, and while I was in college I got pregnant with my son, (you know about green m&ms, right?) and he was conveniently born during January break, and I went back to finish my last semester when he was just a few weeks old.

Thank goodness that my mom was able to care for him while I was at school, and then later, at work.

And at the end of that semester, when I had a photo in the student art show and my husband and my tiny baby son came to see me there, at the opening, he threw up all down the front of my brand new suit. But now that I think about, it was a really ugly suit.

In that year, the year my son was born, I had a baby, graduated college, bought a car, got my first job and bought a house. It was a big year, a year filled with change, the year I turned 24.

And this year, while he was 24, my son graduated from college and got his first job. But he’s not married and he didn’t just have a baby and he still needs to buy a car and buying a house will probably come much, much later.

Times change and I look back at myself and I say, “how did we do it?” Times change and I look at my kids now as they embark on their lives and I say, “how will they do it?”

But it will be the same for them and for their children and on and on and on.

We all do it, we get through this life and we walk through all these milestones and we make our mistakes and one day, we are twice our children’s age.

So on this day as I turn 48, I am thinking about 24 years worth of life. His and mine, all bound up together, the parts of mine that started when he was born, the parts of his he has yet to experience. 24 years of laughter and tears, hope and disappointments, love and joy and so much wonder. All that growth, for both of us, marked by the endless, uncaring passage of time.

The spring after we moved to this house, when he was one, we planted a row of trees along one edge of the property, tiny little twigs that would grow up to be pines. Over the past couple of years, for unknown reasons, they have all died.

But I am thinking that this might be the year to plant new ones.

Originally, there were 12.

But this time, we might have to go for 24.

Jul 12 2010

four hours

in a car is all it takes to clear my mind. four hours of nothing to do but drive and drive down this endless asphalt ribbon. my hardest decision will be which music to listen to next. four hours of singing, loud, uninhibited singing, along with joni mitchell, bob dylan, cowboy junkies, counting crows, alison krauss. four hours of not caring what people passing me think as i belt out all my favorites, feet tapping, head bobbing, mouth wide.

four hours of trucks and cars and vans and jeeps and buses
and motorcycles, and one helicopter being pulled by a camper.
never saw that before. of watching for hawks and spotting two herons and counting crows as i sing a counting crows song and
then smiling to myself about that. of eating m&m’s and drinking
a coke, which I only ever do on long drives.

four hours not distracted by internet or television or telephones or anyone else’s voice. four hours of looking ahead, not behind, not up, not down, not at everything that needs to be done. four straight hours of straight hard thinking.

four hours of sky and horizon, trees and wire, whizzing by so fast you don’t see it. but it sits there, in your mind’s eye.

four hours of enjoying the ride.

four hours twice within 28.

eight hours in a car, with my thoughts and my music.

and none of those thoughts were of time.

Jun 14 2010

the long and the short of it

is that my cup is full, it is overflowing, and I keep pouring new things in. Life is short but the days are long, sometimes too long, and I find myself wishing them away, wishing for this one, or that one, to be over.

My days are consumed with holes and surprises, moments of passion, fits of anger, tears of joy, and a whole lot of busywork in between. Life is filled with life and I live it to the hilt, not wanting to miss a single thing and why should I, why would I, when there is so much to experience?

It makes me think of that Emperor, Joseph II who supposedly told Mozart his music had “too many notes.” Of course, he was so very wrong, Mozart used exactly the right amount of notes, his music comes as close to perfection as is possible, but this life, my life, seems filled with too many notes, too many choices, there is always something else and something else and something else.

I’m not saying it’s all bad, in many ways choices are good, way better than not having enough. These days we can work where we choose, marry or not as we choose, and pick from the entire pond of fish if we want to. We can eat any fruit or vegetable we want at any time of year because it is always available, we can buy anything we want at any hour of the day because the internet makes it possible, we can exchange thoughts and ideas with people on the other side of the globe, at any time, if we so desire. It makes my mind spin.

But are we frozen in place by all these choices? Have you ever been behind someone who couldn’t decide on a flavor of ice cream and stood there forever and ever? Do you ever find yourself buying much more than you need because you can’t decide between this one or that one? Do you ever have a day when you have so much to do, but get nothing accomplished because you walk in circles?

Are we getting out of tune with our own survival, with the rhythm of life that our bodies want to follow even if technology makes it unnecessary? We exercise at scheduled hours if we exercise at all, we buy more things than we have room for in our homes, we eat food that is bad for us because it is there, everywhere we look.

We keep expanding our own tiny universe, one item, one idea, at a time, until we can no longer see the big picture. All these smaller things, these superfluous notes, block our vision. All we see are these choices, the ones we pick, as well as the ones we do not.

I keep trying to find balance, but I flounder in the chaos, one day thinking I thrive on it, discovering the next I most assuredly do not.

I want my life to be a symphony filled with exactly the right number of notes. Not one too few or one too many. I look past all the choices, filter the detritus of technology and convenience and materialism that fills my line of sight, trying to find my perfect pitch. I want to be a melody, not a cacophony.

But the long and the short of it

is that I’m having a really hard time

coming up with the bridge.

There are simply too many notes.

Jun 6 2010

time out of mind*

My hair is a mess. I see myself in the reflection of my monitor and I laugh. You think I don’t, but I do, I laugh out loud because I am always forgetting what I look like, somehow I expect to see the 20-year-old me when I look in the mirror, but that girl is gone, out galavanting somewhere, she has better things to do.

It isn’t a matter of time, the years have passed, I remember them. It is a matter of mirrors. I have always wondered if you feel the same on the inside when you are eighty. I feel the same, in the core, the kernel of my being, as I always have, but I look in the mirror and someone older stands before me. I know I am in there, I know that if I strip away the mercury that lies beneath the glass, I will see all the way to my center.

I am not inert, I change each day, time moves through me, and I am not afraid. I am not chained to the notion of youth, I understand, I accept, but I do not cheer time’s passing. I don’t regret it, either. Minutes tick away on the clock whether we watch them or not. They pass us by or embrace us. We get to choose.

I can think of time as the enemy, it is easy to make time the bad guy. But time has no emotion, it cannot be cruel. It just stands there, a pillar of salt. It is just time.

It forgives but never forgets and moves forward but never returns and we stand on the sidelines and cheer or watch or turn our backs, but it keeps on playing. It is just time.

We are on time, we are out of time, we need more time, we take the time, we take a time out, time is on our side, time waits for no man, we try to put time in a bottle.

It is just time.

Time bursts all our bubbles, time stops us short,
time thinks a mirror is envy.

It is all that there is and all that there isn’t.

It is just time.

* title from Bob Dylan’s album

Apr 30 2010

what I keep forgetting
to remember

Days go by, and despite all the times I’ve reminded myself how important it is to stop and smell the roses, I still forget to do it.

I get busy, distracted, bullied by time.

I start out each morning with the best of intentions. I will be mindful of the moments, savor them, revel in them. I will keep my head up, open to the world around me. I will be a better me. I will make sure to spend time with those I love. I will not waste time with worry, or frustration, or anger. I will live life to the fullest.

And some days, I pull it off. I manage to feel that way, at least part of the time. Others days, it is seven o’clock and I am still working,
I have worked all day without looking up, head down, mind wrapped in my own thoughts, what has to be done, how long I have left to do it, how much more I can accomplish before I go to bed. And then it is bedtime and I am too tired to do anything but stare at the ceiling for a few minutes before I drift off to sleep. Too tired to read, even. And I realize that another day has passed in which I forgot to remember…

To literally stop and smell the roses, or lilacs, or lilies, or any other flower that I happen to pass by.

To tell my husband that I love him, and that I appreciate the things he does, like buying groceries.

To take care of myself. To stop and listen to nothing but my own breathing. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

To look up. Outward, outside of myself and the tunnel my brain lives in to see what is going on in the rest of the world.

To be thankful to be alive, grateful for everything I have, happy to be here, in this day, this hour, this moment.

To enjoy the simple things, like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, meditating on life as I go through the motions.

To eat food that I love, food that is good for me, even if it takes a little longer to prepare.

To sing when my favorite song comes on the radio. To actually turn the radio on.

To connect with my children, even if it is only a text message that says “hello.” To let them know that I love them.

To check in with my parents and my friend who is 84, for no reason.

To find something beautiful, or the beauty in anything.

To forgive: life, myself, those I love, and those I don’t even know.

To focus more on living and less on doing.

To just be.

That’s it.

I just needed a little reminder.