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mr. ford & me

Today.

Today I am catapulted through my thoughts on the topic of who I am versus who I want to be.  Who I want to be, for instance, is a person who reads vastly important books about slowing down and being present.  But who I am is a person who wastes considerable amounts of time. Hours on Zillow.  Hours, friends. 

I want to get lost in a blue sky and puffy clouds.  I would say I want to play a game with my family, but actually?  I don't.  I'm not a game night person.  I don't care about winning, I don't care about losing. Quality time? I'm careless with it, on the one hand.  And on the other hand, I have it all the time. I don't believe quality time is in the fabricated moments.  I think it's every 'good morning', every bad joke, every rushing together out the door to get to school.  Every conversation that just happened and went on and on.  Time is a blink anyway, there will never be enough of it.  Quality has no quantity.  But, still.  I drift.  I drift in fits and starts.  Not sure when, not sure where.  Not sure what.  

Dan, whom I love all through this life, is much more measured than me.  Much more disciplined of mind and body.  I used to think it was me. Me, keeping everything about us knit tight.  But more and more, I see that it's him.  Not all the time, but perhaps more than the motherlode I gave myself the credit for. 

Lately he steers while I drift, while I give myself permission to react, and to be wrong, and to be human. Permission to float on life like a buoy in the bay.  I hold my oar on my lap and let him paddle.  

Dan knows what he wants (and doesn't want) and actively propels himself toward or away--his refusal as powerful a force as his pursuit.  In the time I have known him, he has quit a 30 year smoking habit, resurrected a company, battled the outposts in his past and the roadblocks in his way.  With great heaving sweeps of broad shoulders, he puts the past behind him.  The things he has triumphed over, you cannot even imagine.  And I've been hard on him.  I have.  As you do when you want the most for someone.  

I can take no credit for the work, but I do believe that my oar in the water, at times, may have encouraged the direction we took.  Forward, not back.  Onward, not still.

"The quickest way out is through, my friend."  If I've said it once, I've said it one hundred times. I did not possess the strength, the power, the means to forge his path for him--but my oar provided direction and, in some cases, the ballast to steady the craft.  

It has been years since we have forged our unlikely friendship.  So different in so many ways, save one.  He is my very best friend.  And I, his.  Four years this month, and I am struck by the power of time to change people, to soften people.  To make drifters out of juggernauts; and warriors out of the defeated.  

What I am lately is only contemplative and not much else.  Contemplation--to me an old bathrobe, threadbare and worn in every right place.  From March 2019, when the pandemic struck, until now--I have done nothing but think...HARD.  I set down my daydreams, my wandering threads of thought, in order to make decisions, to be out in the world.  Present. An example.  Taking the hands of little ones into school, leaving their parents on the outside.  Spinning, spinning, spinning the truth of the matter, the faith in the matter, for the fearful--that hope is okay, not reckless.  That we will be safe again, that we are safe still.  I never doubted for a moment.  Never, ever broke my stride.  But it took a toll.  It left a mark.  And my dreams missed me while I was gone.  

All that frontal lobe thinking left no room for thoughts to wander on the wind.  So my only thought as I drift into this evening; as I let the breeze buffet me to shore--is to try. 

To try to close my eyes this summer and remember what matters most.  I have this overwhelming, visceral desire to hold fewer things.  Literally--in my hands.  I'm tried of gripping things: phones, water bottles, sunglasses, masks. 

This summer, I hope to stop feeling exactly where my eyeballs are in my skull.  I gratefully bequeath the sound of information coming at me to someone else.  To anyone else.   Just not to me.  I'll take the sound of the birds in their trees. 

Your energy, and worry and anxiety.  Can you keep it?  I'm busy.   

I'm busy being rowed ashore.  Drifting on summer, on waves of fresh lettuce, with the thrum of the earth beneath me. One of my favorite, brief, poems about nature: 

Shh. Listen.
She stirs.  
 
And briefly I think to raise myself.  I peel open my eyes to consider all the work still to be done, but another favorite comes into my spirit: What is for you will not pass you.  And with the thought of it, I relinquish the world back to itself. I reclaim what of it I can call my own: a green patio umbrella, bare feet, cheddar cheese on Triscuit crackers.  Paper and pencil.
 
And who's to say these miracle are less 
significant than burning bushes, loaves
and fishes, steps on water....
 
My friend, Bess, gave me a card in the beginning of this school year.   In it was a poem called: But You Thought You Knew What a Sign Looked Like.  She wrote in the card, "This year has me anxious.  I don't know how I feel about all of this."  The returning to the classroom.  The masks.  The protocols.  "But you are so certain that this is the path, that it makes me feel better.  You are a miracle in ordinary clothes to me.  Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your faith, thank you for your friendship."  
Dan is a simple man of simple means and, though he would never admit it, I think it bothers him from time to time.  His blue collar.  The scabs, the knuckle bruises, the scars.  But it is so important, I think, to be able to roll back the world and encapsulate in your spirit what is of real value. 
  
"Money," I say to him, "it is nothing.  It is of this world, and this world will be dust one day."  Every day, wherever he is, he provides for me. Comfort.  Joy. Stillness.  Peace, laughter, strength.  Endurance.  Acceptance.  And even--yes, sometimes--tolerance.  I am not an easy woman. "The little bully," he calls me.  But he says it with a devotion I'm a sucker for, and I smile at the nickname only he has for me.  I'm struck so often by the desire to memorize him. Four years together. And he is a marvel to me.  
*** 
We are blessed 
by marvels wearing ordinary clothes--
how easily we're fooled by simple dress--
Oranges. Water. Leaves, bread, crows.   

1 comment

  • you Just posted this! and it’s wonderful, especially oranges leaves bread and crows. Congrats on 4 years! Xo

    Shelley Carr

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