Today is a grey Monday. Full of little irritations like papercuts. I feel rushed, like my mom sometimes says, “running around with one foot nailed to the floor.” I don’t have time, I say to myself, to others, to people I care about. After much running in such a manner, Blue (my sweet rescue border-collie mix) is the only one who reaches me, the only one I finally decide to have time for. I load him up in the car, drive him to our favorite walking spot, where it’s a bit chilly, a bit damp, but divinely silent.
On my way home I’m given a gift. I turn on the radio and hear one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, but I’m disappointed to hear her speaking about Easter, which I care very little about. I think about changing the station, or turning it off to prolong the sweetness of the quiet of the woods I just emerged from, but there is a tugging from some part of my gut, a resistance.
I listen. She tells the story of her best friend, how she was very ill with cancer, wearing a wig and in a wheelchair, dying. Two weeks before her death Anne takes her shopping. In a clothing store, Anne tries on a dress she considers buying to impress a new beau. It’s tighter, shorter than she would normally buy. “Does this dress make my hips look big?” she asks her friend Pammy. “Oh Annie. You don’t have that kind of time,” Pammy responds without missing a beat. I’m paraphrasing, so forgive me if you heard the story, or read it in her book Travelling Mercies.
Things I don’t have time for:
- Does this make my butt look big? (thank you, Anne.) I mean, really.
- Excessive self-pity. I will allow the indulgence until I am aware of it. Well, maybe sometimes a little bit longer. I only hope I can be aware of it before someone else helps me to be.
- Someone else’s lesson. As a teacher, I do a lot of hand-holding. I like to help, be supportive, listen. I have tremendous affection for my students. But the truth is, the best I can usually do for a person is just listen quietly and let them figure it out.
- Answering the phone just because it rings.
- People who Know The Truth.
- The mall.
- Unfocused internet shopping (though it pains me to say it).
- Bad t.v. (okay, just because it’s on my list doesn’t mean I’m perfect here, just reminding myself…).
- Anticipating what someone will say next.
- A novel, if I don’t like it in 75 pages.
- Any form of entertainment that I feel I “should” see, read, listen to, but don’t really want to.
- Gossip. It may be a guilty pleasure, but think about it. Doesn’t it make you want to shower afterward?
- Door-to-door religion.
- Junk food. Unless of course it’s french fries.
What I DO have time for:
- My family. My friends. In a nutshell: Love.
- Pausing. Saying “let me think about that and I’ll get back to you.”
- Listening to the person who is in front of me, no matter who they are (see above–I don’t have time for anticipating what they’ll say). Unless of course, after a reasonable amount of time, say ten minutes, it’s clear they only wish to enlighten me with The Truth. Then they fall into the previous category of “things I don’t have time for.”
- Sitting in the grass in the sun on a warm spring day.
- Sleep, exercise, eating well.
- Lingering a few more minutes with cat in lap.
- Listening to my body, following its instructions on what to do next. (see above–the story of almost turning the radio off but my gut knew what I really needed.)
- This moment.
- Chocolate. A kiss. Scratching dog Blue’s belly. This is a broad, and thankfully extensive, category of “good things.”