“There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if there were no plan at all.”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
My desk is a flutter of papers, ‘to do’ lists, contacts to make, ledgers and proposals in various stages of completion. My favorite sweater will now fit a two year old! (I didn’t pay attention to my laundry!) I have missed deadlines and lamented dreams and ideas that may never make it to draft. My reading list never ceases to grow. I have no idea when I will finish my tasks, or if I will ever finish some of them. But I am alive. I have spent time with family and friends and I have visited so many places; sharing time with amazing people.
Sometimes I forget it is ok to to not live by my list. Recently, instead of attending to that list, I have wandered to important places; graduations, weddings, community meetings, art shows, award ceremonies and benefit dinners. Preparing for, and celebrating these events, takes time from the planned tasks. Picking the right gifts, lingering for conversation, sharing a great meal, cards and the intimate words that express gratitude, congratulations and joy. I have lost myself looking for the right words to match these events. I stumble through my drafts of essays and poems – journals filled with love, laughter, anguish, grief, joy, frustration, accomplishment, fear, anticipation and doubt. The sinew of our humanity!
I am trying to live more intentionally these days. I am trying to make a few more phone calls to the people I love and miss. I send notes and emails to friends I haven’t talked to in a while to let them know, that despite my obsession “to do”, I think of them often. Lately, I have even stopped to visit when I am in the neighborhood – instead of rushing home to the item on my list. I am trying my darnedest not to let the moment pass me by.
It is a change of heart for me to slow down. I am good at checking off one list item, then another, head to one event, then the next – only to sit back at my desk to start another list of projects and dreams.
Now, as my children prepare to embark on a journey of their own, I am called to the moment. I loved watching them grow up, dinners listening to the stories and tall tales, watching games, sitting on the porch with neighbors, seeing them play outside. I wonder about the times I could have been more mindful, listened more, held my judgement until I heard the whole story. But it has all passed and they are ready to go! Most of the time I think of it as an amazing adventure. Youth heading out into the unknown. Parents letting go. But I will miss them! I hope that they remember those of us they leave behind with a call, a note, or an email. I hope they take the time to be where they are, with colleagues, friends and family and to see the world; without a list or an agenda some of the time. They will learn a lot heading out on their own. I hope they live in the moment and have fun – creating a new and exciting life for themselves!