My dear friend A. was suppose to come over for lunch today, but I called her to say I didn't think I was quite up to it. Asthma's a bummer. Although I miss seeing her, it's probably just as well it didn't work out because it sounds like she needs a day at home without an agenda. A. is a business executive, and her job keeps her going at a frantic pace. I know she longs for a time of rest and renewal, and I wish that for her with all my heart.
Our phone conversation, plus being cooped up here in the house all week, prompts me to wonder about my own pace. There are weeks when I work too many hours, but that's not really the problem. The problem is what I'm doing with the hours--I'm being productive and not taking the time to reflect. When I don't pause and think about the meaning of my work and relationships, it feels like life is passing me by.
I clearly remember the moment when I understood the gift of my parents' lives to me.* I'd been reading some new-age book about how we choose our parents. I don't believe that's true, but the idea did get me thinking about ME being raised in THEIR household, exposed to years of their worldview, attitudes, hopes, fears, expectations...all that. I looked at a photograph of my parents that I'd hung on my bedroom wall, staring at their faces staring back at me. It suddenly struck me how their lives seemed incomplete. And in that moment I remembered how my father once told me that he had "never been the captain of his own ship." And in that moment I felt once again my mother's pull, her insistence that I be like her, shielding her from all difference, from everything "other." They were stuck, I thought. Stuck in self-deception and fear.
I felt the horror of it.
And that's their gift to me. Their gift is that, in a sense, I can choose to complete their lives by completing my own. Life will NOT pass me by! Their gift is the realization that I can choose to live a "stuck" life, a life that's never quite "here" or "now" because I'm deceiving myself in some way, or I can choose to live in the present moment. And that means pausing during my days to reflect and give thanks and take a breath.
Those 'holy' pauses will pace my days in such a way that I'll have more energy. (I have to smile at myself...if that's true, which I think it is, then why the hell don't I do it more often? Instead, I work at such a pace that I get sick. Sheesh!)
*I know that their gifts to my siblings were very different. We're the same and not-the-same. Our temperaments, neurobiology, independent experiences--all serve to make that truism "we all grew up in the same house" rather nonsensical!