I was all set with my blog post for today. And then came the news that a dear colleague from Disney lost her husband to a massive heart-attack this morning. Our age. And the reality and brevity and fragility of life came front and center once again. Was I really just thinking about whether I should get a new swimsuit before I come home? How insignificant of me.
Recently, Tom was reading from one of his favorite book series and explained to me that this author isn’t one that has found overwhelming success or writes novels that are going to win international awards. But he loves the nuggets of insight he offers that can stop you in your tracks for a bit. Here are a couple that stood out to Tom and, in turn, me especially has we have reflected on our year and our lives as we move forward:
“Should a man reach eighty, he has only had eighty Septembers.”
“Today, my friends, we each have one day less, every one of us. And joy is the only thing that slows the clock.”
It’s time, isn’t it? Time is the resource we have to use as we see fit. At Disney, whenever a meeting is shortened or cancelled, the facilitator usually says, “I’m giving you all the gift of time”. Really, it’s one of the most overused phrases in my business world and, although I’ve used it myself, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me now. I’m sure you have your own phrases that drive you crazy whenever you hear them.
But it is true that time is a gift. And even more true that each day we live is the same length as the next guy. What did you do with yours today?
Today I napped. So did Tom. It was fabulous. We spent the entire morning shopping for a few items the kids really wanted to travel home with and then met Elizabeth and Julian’s classmates and families for a picnic lunch on the Champ de Mars. Lots of fun. But when we returned around 3:30 and the skies were cloudy, well, there wasn’t anything more perfect than wrapping up with the fuzzy, grey blanket and closing my eyes on the couch for an hour or so. Typically, I get a little anxious on days when I am not checking things off my list. But, for some reason, not today. The fact that I have so much to do and didn’t do any of it may be haunting me by Wednesday or Thursday this week. But I am at peace with it. It’s quite out of character for me but I’ll take it.
In a couple months, my time will, again, but filled with work and daily activities. All good things and things I am proud of. Tom and I have discussed how we are going to incorporate things like lingering over the dinner table into our future lives. I guess if it’s important enough, you just do it. And I don’t want to get wrapped up in the details of what I do and don’t have time for. Is it important to me and my family? Well, then I guess I’ll make the time and not complain about it. And if it’s important for me to be a part of a school, community or church committee, then I should be grateful for the chance to serve others rather than complain (as we easily do) about the time and effort it is taking. And if I choose to be a part of a social group like my lovely Bunco group or book club, then shouldn’t it be a joy to welcome these people into my home rather than focus on the time it has taken to prepare for guests or what time they better leave so I can get on to the next activity in my scheduled life? If something is a burden to you then I guess you either need to stop doing it or change your attitude.
Last Sunday we were having dinner with our guests, Jo and Carolynn, and they were asking the kids about favorite parables in the Bible. Mine is the story of Martha, which I’ve shared before. Sisters Mary and Martha are preparing to welcome Jesus into their home. After He arrives, Martha is slaving away, serving her guests, cleaning up after them and working very hard to be the perfect host. Her sister does not help at all. She just sits as Jesus’ feet and listens to him. At some point, Martha is fed up and says to Jesus (and I’m paraphrasing here, just a little), “Could you please say something to my sister? I’m working my butt off here taking care of everything and she’s just sitting here! Tell her to help me!” And Jesus, it His calm demeanor says, “Martha, Martha. You are worried and concerned about many things but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.” It serves as a great reminder to me especially during those times when I am running around like a crazy woman freaking out about the minutiae of life. Kelley, Kelley. You are worried and concerned about many things but only one thing is needed.
This is the message I need as I head into the next week. Take a deep breath. Enjoy the last walks on the bridge. Spend the days with friends and family. The packing will take care of itself in due time. And relish in the fact that this is my life right now. Right at this moment. Wow. I live in Paris.
This post has been utterly confusing and obviously followed no theme or thread of reasoning. Sorry about that. But I will leave you with one final quote from the Cathedral a few weeks ago:
“Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be quick to love and make haste to be kind.” Henri-Frédéric Amiel