I've got a case of the sighs. You know the ones originating from somewhere around the solar plexus (if that is really a thing) as a release for the emotional weight sitting elephant-like on your chest. Indulge me while I take you on the journey of this past week and the situations responsible for these weight-releasing sighs. My husband and I were excitedly anticipating a beach retreat at the conclusion of a hectic summer creative arts program I direct. Days before our departure we received news that our 47 year old nephew, who has battled a kind of blood cancer for years, was critically ill and dying. Vacation on hold, we traveled to Atlanta to grieve with David's family. Our roles were to provide strength and support to our bereft brother and sister-in-law who have outlived their child. Only days later am I realizing our personal grief was put at bay so we could support those closer to the nucleus of the tragedy. We returned home following the funeral, our postponed beach retreat feeling more important than ever….but….arriving back in Central Florida we ran into hurricane-like weather conditions. Undaunted...beach bags/chairs/umbrellas in tow, we ventured to our favorite Atlantic beach site. I will say the 23 hours spent at the beach were glorious, so much so I have the sunburn to prove it. Our intended leisurely morning sitting on the balcony enjoying hazelnut coffee and French pastries from an authentic NSB bakery was interrupted by the sound of drilling. Two floors below a jackhammer was busy breaking up tile; we were advised this jarring sound would continue throughout the next couple of days. We packed up and left. The hour’s drive home provided space for contemplation of other fun options for our day. I’m not sure who suggested it… but we both agreed and…we ended up spending six hours in a Subaru dealership after which we were the proud owners of a 2017 Forrester. Ok, so we needed to replace the car we were losing as our lease expired. So we left feeling productive and even a little excited. Entering the garage I realized the helpful salesman, while having explained the Bluetooth functions, audio system, and driver seat positions had failed to tell me how to turn off the car. Amid the excitement and confusion of the car I received a text telling me my step-mother’s significant other and committed life partner had experienced a heart attack and was in critical condition. Gene subsequently died leaving Beth in utter shock and despair. While we may be steps removed from these deaths, we nevertheless are reeling from these losses. It has been a bazaar week as a friend described our last 8 days. Agitated and anxious, I made my way to a yoga class this morning. As is often the case in yoga sessions, the instructor asked what motivated us to attend the class. “What is your intention for being here?” What popped into my head was the phrase “bitter-sweet”. Life as we know it is comprised of the bitter and the sweet. I just did not really expect for my taste buds to be quite so inundated all in one week.
Is it possible as we age, we get busier? My dad accused me of "wasting time" spending lazy summer days reading Gone with the Wind for hours, playing street tennis, spending entire days at Robinswood Recreation Park sunning on the lawn and swimming in 45 minute increments before the whistle blew for adult swim time. Somehow at 63 I've become a productivity addict. I feel like every minute should be imbued with constructive endeavors. But that attitude is more than a little exhausting. As I've limped into this Memorial Day weekend, my spirit sagging from the stress of 2-3 jobs, I'm building in some pauses. Dear friends are sharing their beautiful beach place with us. Just even the sight, sound, and smell of the ocean is soothing my spirit. Susan cooked us breakfast this morning. She swears it is a labor of love to care for others. I'm allowing myself to be cared about and for. It's hard for me to accept the generosity of others. In a previous post I talked about being a people pleaser. Part of the plight of the people pleaser is perfection and a seeming inability to accept things from others. I'm so tired, I have little choice this weekend but to accept, even welcome this caring. Peter Beagle wrote in The Last Unicorn..
"When I was alive, I believed-as you do- that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said 1:00 as though I could see it, and “Monday” as though I could find it on a map…Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through walls".I love that line..”Now I know that I could have walked through walls”. We suffer from invisible (or maybe sometimes not so invisible) constraints preventing us from taking control over our own time. Thoreau wrote extensively about capturing control over one’s life. “To effect the quality of your day is the highest of arts” he said. We needn’t be prisoners of time. According to Robert Levine in The Geography of Time, people who have time, who go to the movies in the middle of the work day or go on a 6 month sabbatical are temporal, they own their own time, not letting time own them. So, I plan to “waste some time” this weekend, how about you?