Sometimes (most times) the end of a week is approaching and I start to get a little antsy that I haven’t decided what I’m going to write about for the 52 Week Project yet.
I’m sure it’s not a big deal to anyone if I miss a week or if I’m late, but it’s sort of a big deal to me. I made a commitment to myself and to anyone who was willing to stick around and read 52 entries for the year. I owe it us.
This week though, I’m going with a topic that has been persistently present in my recent life.
It’s nagging at me.
I would guess that the concept has been brought to my attention at least six times over the last two weeks – through several conversations, even a magazine blurb . . . and then on a completely rare and random trip to the library by myself, this book sat staring at me.
I thought something about it was familiar, so I picked it up. I may have read it before, I’m not sure. This month however, this week, this day, the message is sounding ripe and important.
The women in my life seem to be experiencing a call for something like this.
It strikes me as ironic – that is: the fact that I stress about a post, versus the topic of this post, because the whole premise of Anna Quindlen’s book is that some (most) things in life just don’t matter – and it’s time to get back to the business of living.
“You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at the desk or your life on the bus, or in the car or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul”.
How many things do we let pull us away from the things of life that truly mean anything? The phone, the computer, laundry, dishes, errands – pulling us away from moments that will never again repeat themselves. . . . Children discovering creepy-crawlies under a rock, brothers giggling over silly jokes, the way the baby’s little hands are just tiny enough that when she grips your finger hers wrap only once around your knuckle, your husband walking through the front door at the end of this particular day, the embrace of your grandfather or your favorite uncle, chances to hug and snuggle and kiss the cheeks of our dearest ones, or say, “I love you,” or “You’re precious”, or “I’m so proud of you”.
” … I suppose the best advice I could give anyone is pretty simple: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you’d care so very much about those things if you developed and aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast while in the shower?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of saltwater pushing itself on a breeze over the dunes, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over a pond and a stand of pines. Get a life in which you pay attention to the baby as she scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.
Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still.
“Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work.”
If you really think about it, love is really all there is that matters, isn’t it? Giving love, sharing love, feeling loved. . . noticing love? If anything is done minus love, it’s just there, floating and unattached, minus meaning too. It doesn’t feel genuine or purposeful.
Living a life laced with the flow of love breathes meaning into every little move. Wake the kids with love. Fix breakfast with love. Settle up at the grocery check-out with love. Clean up with love. Scrape the gunk from the kitchen sink with love (Ewww, but yeah – really.), weed the garden with love. . . . It sounds silly, but it’s possible. Think about it – why do we do what we do? Because we love someone, and we want the best for them – even if it’s just little ol’ you.
Life has a way of distracting us and convincing us that daily tasks are the ultimately important business of each day. But they’re not the ultimately important business. Because those things mean nothing to anyone after we are gone, and if we focus on the busy buzz of each day instead of the grace of each moment, we miss out on the gift that is life.
“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”
“I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.”
– All quotes credited to Anna Quindlen, from “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”
We are loved each and every moment of each and every day.
Look for it. It’s there.
It’s there in our dear ones, it’s there in the sky, in the singing birds, in the sunset over the misplaced cow pasture on the busy suburban intersection. (In-town girls, you know what I’m talking about – notice it at 6:45pm after a rainy day – it’s beautiful.)
It’s there at the supermarket in the mustached manager who’s permanently cheerful and offers you coffee as you’re headed out the door – (yes this really happens!)
These are all gifts of love, and we are surrounded.
We just need to notice.
I guess maybe I’ve written about this before. . . . Kairos.
I guess it is worth repeating.
XOXO – I’m sending some love!
– Book Cover Image credit to http://annaquindlen.net/