I’ve always tried to keep a lot of space or openness in my life, so that there’s plenty of room for surprises, discoveries, love and friendship.
What I mean by openness is…. unstructured time. Time to think or read or write. Time to spend with friends. Time to follow my curiosity down a tree-shaded lane or through the pages of a concordance.
I’ve never wanted to be so busy that I miss those brief opportunities for wonder that flash and vanish.
But now, now that I’m on the verge of retirement, my days are crammed with tasks and obligations. I have a part-time job and I write a weekly newspaper column. I try to keep my blog interesting, and there’s always stuff to do around the house both inside and out.
And everything takes longer than it used to, while at the same time, time itself has accelerated. The days fly. I just get used to one month and find I’m halfway through the next one.
Even the seasons race by so quickly I’m left breathless.
My long stretches of unstructured time, my weeks of travel and wandering are things of the past.
What to do?
I’m learning to enjoy the moment, since moments are all I have right now.
I’m trying to recognize this particular point in time, this juncture where past, present and future coalesce in now. Trying to open my mind so that the clear air of awareness can rush in, rush through and leave me refreshed.
I’m finding it’s possible.
Two days ago as I headed down the drive, a beautiful black fox ran across in front of me. I may have gotten a five-second look at the lovely creature. But I saw it all, from the fragile face to the long bushy tail, and it made me happy.
Yesterday, in between autumn rain bursts, I was cutting star thistle out from around the house, hoping to slow this invasive weed’s takeover.
And there, at the toe of my boot, stood a praying mantis as still as a tiny two-inch statue. Praying mantises are everywhere this time of year. I find them on the porch railing, on the steps leading to my office, climbing the screen door.
This particular mantis stood with its front legs in the traditional praying position. Then it raised one of its praying front legs and seemed to point forward with it…standing there still as can be. Was it pointing for me to leave the vicinity? Was it saying in insect body language, "Go that way and you’ll find what you’re seeking?"
I’m not a bug-fan, but the praying mantis fascinates me. This insect actually turns its head to look at you. It cocks its little green head.
You know how dogs cock their head and make you think they’re listening and considering what you have to say?
In the same endearing way, the praying mantis can cock its head and look at you, and you’ll swear there’s a human-insect connection there.
Yesterday’s pointing mantis made me laugh.
And then this morning as I drove along a bumpy back road to an interview, suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like the sky covering the ground just beyond some trees.
I stopped the car, grabbed my camera and hurried through the tall brown weeds to the most beautiful, mirror-like pond I’ve ever seen. The picture I’ve posted here is of that pond.
While I snapped pictures, fish jumped and dragon flies hovered and I felt I’d entered an enchanted place. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Huckleberry Finn and Jim walk to the edge of the water and throw in their lines.
So….I don’t have long stretches of unstructured time anymore, but I’m learning that moments can hold all the wonder, humor or enchantment I need.
If you’re a little too busy, may I encourage you to pay attention to those special moments that can change your day. They’re all around.