there is no time in the wild

Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. an alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.
— mitch alborm, the timekeeper

After a trip to the grocery store, after dropping off the grandsons at school, I pulled quickly into the driveway, mentally speeding through my morning. It was almost nine-o'clock and I was already feeling behind. I was riffling through the to-do list in my mind, trying to figure out how to move as quickly as possible through the day because I have shit to do. Important shit. Urgent shit. Not as important shit. All the shit to do. 

As I got out of the car, my neighbor called to me. He has apples for me. I took a few moments to chat with him about his grandfather's farm, rock and stones for the driveway, and how much candy should I have ready for Halloween because we've never lived in a neighborhood before now. Trying not to let my impatience show, I turned back to the car, rushed the groceries in, breathless and feeling behind.  

I am feeling stressed because I feel behind. I feel behind because I am fifty-two years old and didn't figure out what I want to be when I grow up until a few years ago. There is so much I want to do and so much less time to do it in.  The years grow shorter, the days pass too quickly, and I count hours obsessively. Though there is no reason to have this thought, the end of my life looms large, motivating me, demanding that I not waste time, that I spend my time well.

Time is the construct by which I measure my life. Most of us do. I wonder if this is not serving us well. I don't think it is serving me well at all. When I say I am behind, what do I mean? Behind who? Behind what? Who gets to say or determine what my speed through life is? Who gets to measure my life and declare that I am running out of time or that I am wasting time? Though I want to say that I am the timekeeper of my own life, I am not so sure that is true either. 

On days that feel purposeful, I don't count time. I move through my day from one thing to the next, being present, responding to life instead of reacting and that is how I want to live everyday. When I think of my perfect day, I think of the wild and what Mother Nature has to teach me. There is no time in the wild. There is not a frantic push to do all the things before life ends. There is not a to-do list to accomplish before sunset. Hours and days and years are not counted. I want to live in the wild. I want to live. 

"when you are measure life, you are not living it."

~~ mitch alborn, the time keeper


crying in the grocery store

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.
— charles dickens, great expectations

It is said that I have a habit of crying in grocery stores. This is not an untrue statement. It has become such signature move for me that when my daughter recently heard a friend describing an incident in her local grocery store with a crying woman, my daughter asked, "Did she have red hair?" 

I remember the first time. The beginning of 2013 was a season of mourning. A young friend took her own life, my nephew died of an overdose, and my mother's health began a downward spiral. As I juggled a part-time job, caring for my grandsons, managing my mother's health needs, my own home and the last years of homeschooling, grocery shopping became daily run-ins on the way home. It felt like the only time I slowed down and I would take the opportunity to walk up and own each aisle. Publix became a safe space, a familiar place, and the tears would fall. 

My heart was working through the grief of loss, the challenges of change, and the multiple ways I felt like I was not doing enough well enough. There were many dropped balls during those years and many mismanaged emotions. 

Yesterday, the tears were cued when I saw someone who made me think of my brother who died in May. I thought about missed opportunities, misunderstandings, and just missing him. He was a gruff and sometimes angry man. I wondered what our conversations would be like now during this election. He was the demographic of a Trump supporter and I think he could have been vulnerable to the fear mongering of the Trump campaign. 

Then I thought about my father who died in 2004 ten days after the election. My Republican father who went to the polls in a wheelchair to cast his vote for George W Bush. I saw him the day after election day and he asked if the guy I voted for had won. This was his way of determining which way I had voted. Well, I hadn't vote for the guy he had voted for so I thought quickly that at least one person I had voted for in my very Republican state had won so I just told him yes. It wasn't important enough to shatter his delusion of me when his time left here was so short. I've often said that it may be a gift that he left this world before finding out that his beloved daughter had come out as a Democrat. I wondered what our conversations would be like during this election. 

Then I thought about my mother. She never cast a vote for anyone in her life. Maybe she thought she wasn't smart enough, educated enough. Maybe the process was just too overwhelming. I don't know. We didn't talk about it. I do know that she had excellent judgment of character and I know that she had a huge mistrust of her gender and would probably have never approved of a female president. How is it that we women are conditioned to turn our judgment upon each other? So, I wondered, too, what our conversations would be like during this election. 

I haven't set out this morning to write a blog post about our United States elections. There aren't words enough to capture the emotions and thought processes of the past twenty months or so. Instead, I set out to capture the timeline of thoughts that had me driving home from the grocery store in tears, grief flowing through me. I want to remember. 

I want to remember why I cry. I want to remember who I cry for. I want to remember that the salty water cleanses me, somehow. I want to feel every tear that is pulled from my  heart and sears my face with heat, branding me with a reminder that I am real and that life is beautiful and hard and complicated ... and beautiful. 

So I cry for the days and years that I don't have my nephew, my father and father in law, my mother and my brother. I cry for any way that I failed them, failed to show them love and compassion. I cry for the state of my country and the division and fear. I cry for my incredible humans, my children, who astound me with their wisdom and way in the world. I cry for this love of mine, my man and our journey through time. 

There was a time that I didn't cry. I felt it diminished my strength. About twenty years ago, the flood broke through and now? Well, I'm the one crying in the grocery store.