“Keep your eye on the ball,” I tell myself. Or maybe someone is telling me. I’m not sure if it is a voice in dream, or my inner voice directing the morning activities as I climb toward consciousness.
You know those hazy moments when you’re still at your computer in the middle of the night, and along with thoughts of work are memories of childhood arriving in an unexpected stream, or the faces of old friends, or in the shadows, some vision you cannot explain – just for a few seconds?
Within moments of waking I was drafting my mental checklist for the day. It’s the usual: emails, meetings, documents, phone calls.
I was also aware of relocating to a city or town tucked into a scene of countryside, and meanwhile… tossing too damn many balls into the air and hoping that none would drop.
How can we ever focus in the midst of commotion? Why do we continue to multitask even as we sleep? How is it I wake to creating a checklist, relocating, and literally… juggling?
I may remind myself: One thing at a time. But real life (of course) has other ideas.
One Thing at a Time? Uh-Huh.
I start the day with a plan (like you), and even allow a small amount of slack, and usually, things hum along fine – busy, but fine. Too busy, but fine. Well, good enough, right?
Naturally, at the worst possible time – the car needs to go into the shop, a deadline is moved up, and the computer crashes.
Are these details in the grand scheme of things?
You bet. And I know it. (You know it, too.)
These small irritations and pressures don’t matter. Not fundamentally. But they feel like they matter when they accumulate, or you’re tired, or you know there are others counting on you. Or – it’s the holidays – and there are groceries still to be bought and cleaning still to do and the tree still to be purchased and set up, not to mention the junk mail, the end of year tax-related tasks, the relationships that seem to sit on the sidelines as everything else takes center stage in preparation for hoping to concentrate on those very same relationships.
Dreams of Simpler Times
Ah, the innocence that I imagine as a blissful state of unmarred idealism, a time before overwhelming complexity and expectations, before doors closing and options narrowing and the darkening edge of the adult world.
I recall my child-self clearly, the ease of that self in imagination, in optimism, in anticipation of discovery; the essential sweetness that is precisely what we love so much in all young children.
Their faith in us. Their faith in the future.
Dreaming… For Our Children
I find myself thinking about my sons, and hoping they will be able to recall the same innocence and hopefulness that I can touch even now, revisiting that child self. To her belief in the good – in all of us.
“Dream, dream on, dream big,” a larger version of me instructs this brightly unspoiled miniature, as she picks her way across an emerald hillside, tossing those red balls into the air. Then, with a dewy face, she announces: “This must be Pennsylvania.”
Why Pennsylvania? Why not? (Aren’t our dreams entertaining?)
When my firstborn seemed on the fast track to maturity years ahead of his time, I was secretly thrilled when his younger brother informed me that he loved being a kid, and he was in no hurry to grow up.
To the chagrin of the knowing adult, most children are in a hurry to grow up, like my elder. My little one, at least for a time, lived an exemplary state of blissful innocence. He remains a happy example when the world seems to weigh me down.
Taking. A. Breath.
When we sleep, if we are fortunate, we may revisit the child’s place of bliss, of adventure, of possibility.
How disappointing it can be to wake as an adult.
The day is underway, I’m checking off items on my list; I’m glancing at the clock and shaking my head. Will the tree be postponed until tomorrow?
I am repeating my own refrain, my recommendations, my self-soothing mantras; I caution myself to take a breath – so that I do not stress over everything that isn’t done for the holidays, over the car that needs to go into the shop, over the year-end paperwork, over the deadlines that inch closer.
I remind myself to see whatever hours I can through some element of a child’s wonder, through my own eyes when I was a child, and if need be, if nothing earth-shattering depends upon it, not to worry too much about dropping the ball.
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