Friday, November 21, 2008

how quickly the wide open narrows

This week is busier than normal. It’s probably just the typical pre-holiday rush of activities and assignments, but I’ve felt deadlines loom in every area of my life this week (and for the rest of this, we are just going to leave work aside because I’m a master at leaving my work assignments at work and not trying to get them done on “my” time). I sent Somebody a list of things that I needed to get done and there was definitely more than I could accomplish in the short time I have at home each evening. Even with the list I somehow started missing commitments. One night this week I agreed to accompany Somebody on an errand and completely forgot that my visiting teachers were scheduled to visit. Luckily, my mom was home and they were able to visit with her for a while, but I felt guilty that they had driven 20 minutes across town and I had completely spaced the appointment. Last night was supposed to be spent with a couple of friends finishing a craft project that I started in August. We cancelled the plans at the last minute because of the sickness that has invaded both their homes, and suddenly I had extra hours to get some of my tasks done.

First up was to make a dessert for a meeting I have tonight. I stood in the pantry for ten minutes looking at the boxes of cake mixes (all six of them) and trying to think of something I could do with them other than just make a cake. And then I turned to for some inspiration. Half an hour later I still hadn’t found anything I felt like making and so moved on to the next project. (If you’re keeping track, that was almost 45 minutes wasted. A cake could have been mixed and baked in the time I spent NOT making up my mind.) I was hoping to write the next section of our story (which is kind of turning out to be the longest lead up to a first date in history) but was delayed because I needed some information that I knew I had written on an index card. I just needed to find the card. Sadly, it is somewhere in a storage room filled with 23 boxes from our previous life. I looked through every box that made sense to me and that I could reach, even climbing over chairs and tables to get to harder to reach areas. For an index card. A blue index card with information I felt like I just had to have. An index card hidden in boxes of books, clothing, kitchen items, and other randomness that we never unpacked. What are the chances that it is going to turn up any time soon? I did, however, find the lost bag of t-shirts that I was looking for last week (Russ—I found your shirts!) and so that hour of the evening was not a total loss.

In the end, I accomplished only one of the tasks that needed to be done last night. No dessert was baked. No story was written. No coat was purchased. No photos were edited. I was feeling discouraged and slightly overwhelmed when Somebody came home from class. I knew that I was ignoring him and not responding to his stories and not engaging him in conversation. At one point when I was still getting ready for bed and he had already finished, he was just hanging around waiting for me to be done (he does this often—he calls it “wanting to be with me” and because I’m a cold-hearted snake I call it “being smothered”) and I turned to him and said, “You know, you don’t have to wait in here for me.” “I know,” he replied, “that’s what makes me so nice.”

For those of you who are not fans of Wicked!, you might have missed the humor there, especially considering that part of his story I was ignoring earlier involved how he was listening to the Wicked! soundtrack with the volume turned all the way up on the drive home from class. And, quite honestly, that is what makes him so nice. He is willing to wait around until I get my stuff in order personally and can finally focus on the people around me who might need me. Later he said, “I just need you to pay some attention to me.” After my heart broke into a million pieces and I smacked myself for being so selfish I finally focused my attention where it belonged. It’s not going to matter that I’m going to show up tonight with a store-bought dessert (note to self—go to store and buy dessert) and doing so doesn’t make me less of a baker or less of a woman. And it isn’t going to matter to anyone but me if the story I wanted to tell isn’t going to be finished in time for Somebody’s birthday. I can wait another week for a coat. And those photos are still going to be there when I get back to them next week.

What cannot wait, and what shouldn’t wait, is for me to take the time to make sure that Somebody knows that when he needs my attention, he can have it. When he needs me to be there for him, I will be there. No matter how busy my week might be, I need to learn to put my family before own interests. I am so lucky that Somebody is willing to tell me that he needs me, because if I was allowed to move along without interruption it might be days (weeks!) before my list of things to do eases up enough to finally turn around to see how he is doing. And who knows what I would have missed, and what I would have hurt, in all that time. It would not be too much of a stretch to say I spent the entire decade of my twenties waiting to be needed like that. It would be a shame to throw all that love away because of a cake and a coat.

1. I am grateful that I have family and friends who are patient with me through my weaknesses and are willing to point out the times I am moving in a direction they know I will regret.
2. I am grateful for honest answers (especially to hard questions.)
3. I am grateful for flannel sheets and heavy blankets that restrict my nighttime movements and allow my sleep to be more restful.
4. Also, as a bonus for Heidi, I’m grateful that the signs around town now look like this:

Although I took this picture yesterday and just now noticed that today the price has actually gone down to $1.56. It's like a Thanksgiving miracle.

"One thing I can tell you with certainty is this: You cannot predict happiness by the amount of money, fame, or power a person has. External conditions do not necessarily make a person happy. The Brethren who have had assignments in poorer countries report that despite the abject poverty, the people are very happy. The fact is that the external things so valued by the world are often the cause of a great deal of misery in the world.
"Those who live in thanksgiving daily, however, are usually among the world's happiest people. And they make others happy as well.
"Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration.
"Living in thanksgiving daily is a habit that will enrich our lives and the lives of those we love."
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001


Allison said...

Love this post - thanks!

Karla said...

Wow, isn't Somebody nice? You are a lucky girl!