I’m wound pretty tightly. Lately, I’m having weeks where my schedule is so full, there is barely time to think. It means that I’m going to Sproing! at any moment. It finally happened yesterday – the unraveling, the unwinding, gears off track, springs shooting wildly off in every direction. I imagine myself to be like a cartoon, ending haplessly in a disassembled pile of parts.
I began to drift mentally. I flopped down in the middle of a productive day to be decidedly useless. I perused the books on my shelves, listened to Keb’ Mo’ on repeat and said “no” to everything else. We got hit with a huge snowstorm last week, so primal urges to be out and in the dirt gardening were squashed. There’s nothing to be done but wait it out.
Drifting can be an uncomfortable state for me. I have calendars and lists and reminders popping up on my phone and on my computer. I have sticky notes and files and some days I’m organized down to the millisecond. It makes me efficient, prepared, a “together” kind of person, able to juggle work and volunteering and parenting and domesticity in a single bound. Until I hit that wall.
I begin to absentmindedly dismiss all the electronic reminders and start to lose things. I laugh erratically when I realize I’ve walked out the door with an unmatched pair of running shoes on (true story). A sticky note is stuck to my elbow (also true). I can’t remember where I was supposed to go first and start muttering out loud. A little panic sets in. The sense that I’ve forgotten something overwhelms me and I’m paralyzed by anxiety.
There is a feeling that it will all come crashing down on me. That I will soon be revealed for the disheveled heap of forgetfulness and irresponsibility that resides at my core. I sit down. I’m exhausted. As my heartbeat slows, the noose loosens, I pick up a book or ten. I don’t really read, just flipping through words, words, words. My mind opens and thoughts of where I have to be and what I need to do dissipate, clearing the way for random, disorganized and unfocused thoughts.
The meaning of time begins to change. It stops being measured by the clock and starts drifting. I start to think about all the writers throughout the centuries, all of us grasping for meaning or notoriety or to get it all out. It’s really an amazing pursuit. I’ve missed writing the last couple of weeks. I caught up on correspondence, doing that time-consuming old-fashioned task of writing longhand letters, some illegible as hastily scrawled notations on a prescription pad. Writing longhand sets me back in time, when I filled pages trying to find meaning.
Sometimes, when I look at my books, mournful thoughts emerge. I will never live long enough to learn all that I want to learn. My books, some unread, sit hopefully on a side table. They remind me that I have a lifetime of intention that must be fit, if I’m fortunate, into a limit of decades. Sad thoughts follow quickly, as I thought about the many lives lost this week. There was Boston, then Texas, Iraq and an earthquake in China. Lost potential, lost years to grief. My thoughts are petty in comparison.
I took my time vacuuming and folding laundry – physical, but neither demanding nor mentally taxing. I took care of my possessions, dusting mementos and books and picture frames. Possessions are both important and not. It is the care that we take with them that imbue them with value, not ownership. It is the reminder of friends or times long past, but held dear. I hung a new piece of artwork, sent by one of my blogging buddies, a reminder of whimsy and new friendship and the value of something handmade or drawn.
I helped my daughter do some crafting projects, ate dinner with family, talked to the cats who have been repeatedly ignored and tripped over this last week. I touched base with all those people and things that put my “to do” lists into perspective. They are the reason that I do.
Today, I plan more of the same. Unfocused thinking, book browsing, another walk on a snowy, gray day, writing here and there. And when tonight comes, my breathing finally full and natural again, my love of books and writing reignited, and gratitude for being alive refreshed, then I will sit down and write my list for Monday.