On This Day

11 months, 2 weeks ago, I was trudging through the day-to-day like an elephant on two legs in an animated film.  I was full with pregnancy, with baby, aches and pains, in bladder, daily chaos, and exhaustion.  I was in some sort of suspended stasis; neither did I want to be pregnant any longer nor did I want the onslaught of labor and care of a newborn.

Thanks to the equally annoying, nostalgic, and awe-inspiring features of technological devices and their applications, I can see last week, this week, today in tidy little boxes of unasked-for updates.  That me has tired eyes, a wan smile, the ruddy mask of pregnancy fingering its way across my face.  Except for the dropped weight, that me hasn’t changed much in the last near year.

And yet, looking at that me, it seems like another life.

Looking at this other life in my arms, I feel like she’s just arrived and yet, that other, older me in the photos is saying she’s been here for eons.

For the growing she’s done, I’ve done.  For the countless hours of lost sleep, the endless ribbon of days and nights spooled out and folded in and around each other.

It’s time to celebrate her first year of life, but she still feels brand new to me.  How has this time elapsed without my say so?  For all the holding and staring and loving, I couldn’t hold her trapped in time with my gaze.

But if I stay focused on her in this day, all the others, past and present, will fall away.

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The Simple Things ARE the Things

A toasty bagel oozing cream cheese

A crinkly wrapper compressed solidly in your fist

Sun light streaming

Fears, panic, stress receding

From a simple soul baring followed by an authentic affirmation

Jennifer Butler Basile

Jennifer Butler Basile

The joy and light of crisp fall leaves all around me

Radiance enters my soul and sings

Reading the Leaves

 

Tea leaves swirling

Pulling to the middle,

metal flakes drawn magnetically

Center spinning,

growing,

with each revolution

gathering more to its core

Mesmerizing

Mind numbing

Eye opening

 

Soak a Single Moment

 

Tart and sweet,

warmth running down my middle.

The cricket click of a processor.

The whine of refrigeration.

The wave of radiation shimmering in the shadow box of mullions.

No matter where I am, I can find the glow of the sun.

It and I travel all over, and yet, connect –

if I look, if I feel, if I stop to soak it in.

Sometimes the grandest thing to be done

is to do nothing but soak in the sun.

 

Ain’t Got Time to Die

Hello, my name is Jennifer.  And I have a problem with mindfulness.

 

In the quest to be mindful, I’m consumed by it.  I’m so busy thinking about it, I don’t think I can achieve it.  Two days ago, I wrote about the miniscule moments that eat up our day; how we don’t live because we’re completing chores and tasks that never end, but we keep trying to complete them anyway.  True.  But people like me never set boundaries, a point when reached, regardless of completion or ‘im’, I stop and begin to relax, enjoy.

 

Julie Metz also offered me another perspective in her book, Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal

“Henry’s [Metz’ husband] idea of a perfect day was an action-packed race from waking to sleeping.  He was afraid of the tedium of everyday life, with its chores and routines.  Every real day, however, includes a portion of boredom.

I have struggled to resolve my own boredom through frantic mental activity or shoe shopping.  In rare, blessed moments, I have understood that, with patience, boredom can lead to stillness and calm.  And in calm, I can experience a meditation where I connect with my true self.  I can greet myself with kindness, before I return to my work, parenting, and chores.  These uncharted moments, whenever they happen, are as close as I have come to heaven.

Henry fought off every meeting with his true self, with all its flaws, contradictions, and talents.”

 

Am I, by not embracing the boredom and tedium, not meeting with my own true self?  By mocking the replacing of the toilet paper roll, et al, am I missing out on whole chunks of my life?  Mini-mental vacations I can take to realize, wonder, and reflect?

 

I can’t tell you the last time I was bored – unless you count depressive states when nothing is appealing.  I often joke that I’d love to be bored, to have the opportunity to do nothing.  Really, we can’t do something with our lives unless with take time to do nothing periodically. Am I physically and mentally capable of that?

 

The refrain of a song I heard long ago fills my head as I write this [My subconscious speaking or another sign that I can’t focus on one thing at a time ;-)] –  “Ain’t Got Time to Die,” a Negro Spiritual I first heard sung by Terras Irradiant, a Christian acapella group from Amherst College.

 

Lord, I keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus

Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus

Keep so busy praisin’ my Jesus

Ain’t got time to die.

 

I am so busy, but I think I’m filling my time with the wrong sorts of things.  Or at least the balance is off.  Focusing on the spiritual would make the crazy press of days fall away or at least lessen.  The hectic pace would slacken, or wouldn’t bother me so much with moments of mindfulness to bring me back to center.  My center as it relates to the greater world around me, my place in this great sweep of time and humanity called life.

 

How’s that for some high falutin’ thinking?

 

Now enough thinking, just be.

 

(Think I can follow my own advice!?)

 

(Don’t answer that!)

 

Miniscule Moments

The tiny tasks we do throughout the day.

 

The minutiae that eat up our time, but bear no importance to our conscience.

 

Pulling back the polka-dot cardboard piece to open the window atop the tissue box.

 

Placing items in the corner of the bottom step to fill shelves upstairs later.

 

Milk in fridge.

Bags in plastic column to be pulled out as needed.

 

A picture frame smashing to the floor, its glass front smashing into tiny pieces.

 

One clear shard a tiny scimitar slicing the terracotta tile.

 

There is life to be lived, but the slivers must be vacuumed.

 

And then the hose sniffs the crumbs just around the corner,

the detritus tracked in from outside –

grass clippings and unidentifiable pieces of bark

or dried stalks from dead flowers.

 

Stop.

 

There is always a mess to be cleaned up.

 

But time is limited.

 

We must be sure not suck our precious moments into the vacuum canister, lost forever.

The Zen of Buddy

No errands for me.  No languishing in stores simply because I’m sans kids and don’t have to hightail it out the door.  Not even a cup of joe to go.

The plan today was head straight home after preschool drop-off, brew a cup of tea, and write! 

There was the reflection I’d entered into my journal two nights ago to be expounded upon.  There was the humorous quip forming in my head that I must look good because it’s been two mornings now that another mother has oh-so-discreetly done the smile to full-body-scan maneuver.  Yes, the hem of my pants meets my shoes.  And yes, I wear shoes everyday.  Do you need a fashion report?  Urgh. 

Stuff, thoughts, words rattling – all waiting patiently for me to let them free.

Until, suddenly, a dog appeared on my horizon. 

As I turned the corner to my street, I spied a big black lab trotting down the side of the road.  I vaguely noticed something behind him and, maneuvering past another car coming the opposite direction, just assumed it was his owner trailing along.  Upon closer inspection, I realized the dog was all alone and dragging along some manner of brush.  Several families in our neighborhood have black labs and I did see a collar on him with a leash of some kind, so I figured he’d just gotten away on a walk.  I pulled to the side of the road to waylay him until his master came down the hill. 

Knowing the dog and I were strangers, I approached him slowly and talked in a friendly tone.  He was happy to come sniff my hand, but just as happy to root his nose around in the grass, bushes, dirt and sand around us.  Talking all the while to him about his predicament, I realized what I had thought was a leash was actually a lead, snapped right off its anchor in his yard, somewhere, and wrapped around what looked like a pine tree.  It was small mind you, as far as pine trees go, but a good size for a dog to be dragging around.  I still haven’t figured out if it was an actual tree or a good size limb and whether it had already been felled or if he’d snapped it right off in his furious escape. 

I also realized that his owner was not coming down the hill.  It was just me and Buddy, as I’d taken to calling him.  Great, I thought, he jumped his lead, his owners are at work (and therefore not looking for him), and I have no idea where he belongs.  I picked the first house I knew of that had a lab somewhat known for wandering.  Their cars were in the driveway!  Awesome! 

Before I reached the door, I heard the calling and whistling.  I couldn’t make out the name, but I knew it was Buddy’s master seeking him.  Good news.  Bad news.  The voice echoed through the woods behind the neighbor’s yard in which I stood, which meant it was from another dead-end street nearly a quarter-mile away.  To double-check my instincts and echolocation, I checked for Buddy’s identification. 

Buddy was Bruschi and he did live on that presumptive street. 

So Buddy/Bruschi and I set off, me coiling the plastic-covered wire around as many times as I could to rein him in and not get my hand cut off should he bolt, he happily and haplessly sniffing, peeing, bobbing, and weaving.  I kept telling Buddy/Bruschi that we could not dally, could he not hear his master?  He was worried about him.  I hurried as best I could to assuage his master’s fears.  I jogged as much as I could, Buddy/Bruschi excitedly keeping pace, but was glad after awhile for his pit stops.  Though, he eventually made so many to leave his mark, I highly doubt he had any pee left. 

I knew where Buddy/Bruschi’s street was, but wasn’t familiar with the house number.  I checked mailboxes as he sniffed.  Does this smell like home, Buddy?  I asked.  A man walking another dog approached and Buddy sped up.  Oh, great, I thought, is Buddy/Bruschi one of those dogs that mauls strange dogs he meets on the street?  I shortened the lead when the man started talking.

“Where did you find him?”

It took me a minute to realize this was Buddy/Bruschi’s owner.  Obviously overcome with worry and relief at his return, he’d skipped formalities and headed straight to questioning.  He was exasperatedly impressed with Buddy/Bruschi’s prowess at mowing down brush when I recounted how I’d found him.  He asked how I’d known to come to his street, I guess forgetting in his mania that he himself affixed the tags with his address to Buddy/Bruschi’s collar.  Good thing he’d thought of this precaution when he had a clear head.  Then he introduced himself, ‘by the way.’  And thanked me profusely. 

I removed my sweaty fleece and walked home, feeling like a good neighbor, a good citizen, able to problem solve and help others at the drop of hat – or pine bough, in this case. 

I was glad I didn’t have to jog this leg of the trip, but I found that I missed Buddy.  Maybe finding myself in the new situation of all three children in school at once has left me wanting someone to ramble on at incessantly.  I most definitely used my singsong mom-voice with Buddy.  It was nice to have someone to be responsible for, but who couldn’t talk back.  A fun-loving companion.  Someone to whom a roaming walk through the woods meant everything, every new smell a discovery, every moment a present (get it?).  Buddy was completely present in the moment, though.  I’m sure he heard his master calling, but if a mailbox suddenly presented itself, he was going to pee on it.  If there was road kill to be sniffed, it would be sniffed gosh darn it.  One thing at a time, people. 

When I picked up my youngest daughter at preschool a very short time later, I told her I’d made a doggy friend.  I want to make a doggy friend, she said.  Well maybe we’ll take a walk and meet Buddy someday, I said. 

You wouldn’t think meeting a dog determined for discovery this morning would make such an impression, but Buddy did. 

Just keep running, just keep running . . .

Just keep running, just keep running . . .

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