Self-Reflection and Time

The beautiful part of writing your own blog is that, while you can stay with one theme, sometimes its nice to get off the written path and…improvise a bit. Coming up with a blog this week (after I have somehow misplaced my blog plan for the year) saw me wobbling between some kind of self-promotion, poetry, or writing advice.

Well, I haven’t refined a poem that I’m ready to share yet, and I often get annoyed with too much self-promotion (my own mostly). I have lots of writing advice, but today I want to talk about time.

Time is a tricky sort of celestial magic. It is elusive and easy to lose, yet feels infinite and ongoing. The problem is that humans have such short spans of it to spend. And the more we spend, the faster what we have left goes. It is relative, and yet some moments can stop it. Days are long, but years are short. And the amount we are given is never guaranteed, nor is it ever enough.

So what do you plan to do with the time you have left?

I realize that working, sleeping, eating, caring for family and general ‘stay alive’ skills factor in. I’m talking about the minutes when you have a breadth of time to yourself.

Just before bed.

Right after you wake up.

That 15 minute break at work

the 20 minutes your baby is napping

The 2 minutes, sitting in your car before the kids get out.

The hours on your hands when your nest is empty.

The Saturday morning, the Wednesday afternoon, the Tuesday night…

You see, I just had another birthday, and every year when that date rolls around (especially since hitting 40) there is an urgent sense of morbidity.

What if this is the year?

That I get hit by someone watching their phone instead of the road while I’m out running. That my dog (or one, or all in a congregated attack of cats) trips me down the stairs. That I throw myself in front of my children, (or someone else’s) when a random gunman open fires at the grocery store. That I catch a benign case of the flu and run myself into walking pneumonia, and stop breathing in the night.

That the shadow on my pancreas has become a full-fledged tumor.

What if this is the last year I have left?

What do I want leave behind? I’m not trying to be a downer, or anticipate death. But time…

Time doesn’t slow for any of us. And time can stop us, dead, with the slightest universal plot twist.

What if this is the last year you have left? What if it’s the last month?

We don’t have time to wait. There is never a perfect time to do what you’ve always wanted to do. We have a limited time offer to live.

I have moments to enjoy with my children. I have a lot more naps in the sun with my dog. I have mountains to climb, smiles to spread, joy to foster, power to reclaim, and hurtful patterns to break. I don’t want to waste another minute on people who do not see my worth. I don’t want to waste a second on making the same mistakes that robbed me of time, or dignity, or love. I have so many more books to write. I have so many more poems to scribble down. More students to teach. More coffee to drink. More places to travel. More steps, more breaths, more life. And I want to pack as much of it all in, to every moment I have available.

Make a list. Today. This very minute. Pretend that it is all you have left to hope for and not much time to make it a reality. And start today. This very minute.

Time is not on our side. It is a ever-quickening beast, thundering beside us, and gaining ground. Your job, tiny chess-piece of the infinite universe, is to learn to move, and love, and live, every single moment you are here. So that when that monitor blip begins to slow, and the metronome of your heart ticks to ever-expanding spaces of silence… you know that you spent every beat of it well.

Standing at Attention

Hello Beautiful-stuffers,

I missed last week’s blog due to some conflicts with my reason to care, but I’m back again with a stirring edition of The Beautiful Stuff and today, I’m talking about kids. Particularly the three to eight crowd whom I typically work with in my karate classes. You see, this week is testing week.

It’s the exciting hours when those little bright-eyed darlings bound out on the floor (hopefully remembering to potty first and bow upon crossing the threshold) to ‘earn’ their brand new belt and no doubt bragging rights the next day.

Now heading the school’s instruction team is a stoic former Marine and a stalwart of rules and order on the floor. Absolutely excellent in the face of a rowdy teen or an unsure adult in need of the structure and control.

Absolutely useless and frustrated in the face of the giggling, juggling mass of pent up life force.

And testing time is rarely different.

Though the potential for their future of order and restraint is glimpsed (and I suppose that’s why they come to the school in part) some of the instructors will roll their eyes at the still inadequate control. While I stand in the back and  lament the beauty of their childhood being chipped away.

I was told repeatedly that “the Dragons class will eat you alive”. Both male instructors said so, shaking their heads and trying to bury the horrors of war. I nodded, in that reassuring way you do when someone has no idea.

Son (I call them son because I’m grow’d up over them by a few good years), I’m a mom. And on top of that, I’m a mom that actually enjoyed the ages of my daughters when I had to staunch nose picking while watching them ping-pong off the couch and sing “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs. Every day. All day. Seven days a week, most nights, and EVERY vacation.

So when those little bouncy balls landed on line tonight, wiggling in their gis until their belts untied themselves, and the jaws of less-seasoned warriors clenched, I glowed. I smiled. I adored and dote on.

Want to know why?

One of the greatest beautiful moments in life is when the life in us cannot be contained in man-made illusions of order. It’s in the misdirection and distraction. It’s the exuberance and unconditional love. It’s all that we lose as we age, either by the weights of life tying us down, or from being told repeatedly to stand straight and stop wiggling.

Ok. I understand that order has to exist. Ask any of the poor souls on I-25 while the uninformed attempt to merge. We do have to learn order and self-control. Or everyone would just live on cake and would never go to work, and we’d get into fights and stray from our homes… I’m not saying that order isn’t important.

But order imposed on a mind still fluttering like a million startled butterflies in a sunny meadow, is like trying to…well catch a million startled butterflies in a sunny meadow. At some point. You need to just let go and enjoy the ride and the sunlit flash of pure color. Keep them safe, keep them engaged, and love every odd-ball story and uncontrolled giggle.

I hope you realize I’m not just talking about from kids here. From the people in your life. Encourage, especially the adults in your life (You TOO reader), to barrel through it all with a bit more frivolity and joy.

Sometimes we’ve been so long from it that we’ve forgotten how. It’s not so hard to find your way back. Here are some things that may help:

Go barefoot in the grass

Dig for worms, put them back in the garden.

On the way to your car from the grocery store, work up a good speed and hop on the back of your grocery cart…ride it all the way to the car.

Say no. To them. To yourself…to every “how to be perfect” blog or article you read.

Read the comics first and throw the rest of that shit away.

Go for a bike ride with your kids around the block and name your bike like the noble stead it is.

Tell a dirty joke.

Laugh at dirty joke.

Laugh at a fart.

Fart (and pull the covers over your spouse’s head so that they may truly enjoy it…if your marriage is really meant to last it won’t matter. If it matters well…then I’m going to let you think about that for awhile)

Belch in front of your kids, and follow it with a “Holy cow! That was awesome!”

Grab a bowl of lucky charms and watch some cartoons (Teen Titans is my fav these days).

Wiggle

Dance

Sing “Sweet Caroline” LOUDLY out your car window at the stop light. Those who don’t join in or at least smile are to be pitied.

Never say no when a child wants a hug.

Always kneel down to meet them, their perspective is so much better anyway.

Tell people you love them.

Tell them you love them without needing it to mean anything more than just what it is.

Move on.

Forget.

Someday, remember just the good bits, fondly.

You see, kids and older people get what we’ve forgotten. That the beauty of life comes from the dancing in chaos, not the standing still on line.

Still, go potty before you try the standing still…it does help the wiggles.