mr. ford & me
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: