Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pause that Refreshes

A couple weeks back, pausing during Mass and looking ahead to a particularly busy week, I found myself distracted from the liturgy, thinking instead about the many and varied little things I had to accomplish before I would sit in that pew again.  It was going to be a very full week.

I thought, "If I can just make it through this week, next week will be easier. I'll just muddle through and then I can relax a bit."

I did muddle through the week, and I got (nearly) everything done I was supposed to finish.  But y'know what? The next week was almost as busy as the last one and I didn't get a chance to relax "unhindered" like I thought I would.  I felt a bit cheated. And quite exhausted. I had been so looking forward to a  rest later on that I missed opportunities to rest when I had them.  Does this happen to other people?  I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who (unrealistically optimistically) thinks busy-ness will subside occasionally and give me a break.  Perhaps I am.

A friend of mine said something interesting about looking toward the future too much. She was talking to her dad and said, "Pop, sometimes I just wanna fast-forward my life ten years."  To which he, wise man that he is, replied:
"Honey, once I was on a hot, dirty island during the war. Every Sunday they showed a movie, and we'd spend the week looking forward to that. Then on Sunday, we'd just be looking forward to the mail day on Wednesday.  You'd wind up wishing your life away."  

Wow, Mr. M--you got it.  So today, when I was back in the pew, looking through my purse-notebook, where I write thoughts of all sorts (mostly very silly things), I saw this: "to just 'keep afloat until...' can be a dangerous mindset. The future is never as rosy as it seems."  I resolved to go into this (busy, holiday) week trying my best each moment at whatever I'm doing, no matter how unpleasant. Because that will be infinitely better than merely looking forward to the moment when I get the turkey carved and set on the table, or when grace is said and we all sit down. It's important to keep the future in mind, but I can't skip over the unpleasant present to get there.

Because, you know, being the hostess means I'll be up and down the whole meal filling glasses and dishes with more food, getting more wine or beer, putting dessert in the oven so it's ready on time.  I might not get a chance to rest after grace is said--who knows?

But so far, it's a good thing I did resolve to be more pleasantly present, because this weekend hasn't been the vision of Thanksgiving-prep that I had envisioned.  It's been wonderful, and I've enjoyed it immensely, but I didn't get any cookies baked :) Instead of focusing on all that I hadn't accomplished, I just rearranged my schedule later in the week and tried to be better about using my time wisely--which includes resting when I could, too.

So here's to the present! Keep your nose to the grindstone if you must, but don't forget to straighten up, take a deep breath, and look around you and appreciate the beauty of the moment. It's there. I promise.

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