when your life is stacked too high

In the course of a month and a half, I broke six objects.
I can’t recall breaking anything in years but now I am continually reaching for a broom.
I broke several succulent pots, a lovely amber ware platter affectionately called the ham plate, my flat iron’s landing place, a large baking dish, small and extra large measuring cups and a porcelain message board.
During one week, it seemed every item I reached towards shattered, the opposite of the Midas touch. I was constantly pouring a waterfall of useless pieces into waste baskets.
Once I moved beyond feeling incredulous, the majority of these crashes could be narrowed down to rushing on my part and items either stored improperly or stacked in precarious positions. Despite broken things being a part of life, each one of these accidents could have been avoided. Most of the occurrences were simple disappointments but one was a piece which held sentiment, not easily replaceable as the others.
Day after day and week after week, I would recount to Carl the contents of our garbage can. Some days I would throw up my hands and shake my head over my foolishness but other times I pointed a finger of blame away from my frame.
Yet I was the one who had been doing all the pulling and pushing, grabbing and moving at the speed of hurry, not him.
It’s easy to stack our lives too high, crammed so tightly, if we attempt the removal of one piece, one activity, one commitment, the fallout resembles losing at Jenga.
I can no longer keep sweeping up the broken pieces scattered at my feet without examination. Each piece represented the wreckage amassed from my relentless rushing and busyness.
Besides this ingrained habit, these mishaps occurred because I hadn’t put those items away properly. A rushed person plus a teetering tower equals calamity.
Platters need to be stacked two high instead of to the ceiling. When every inch of shelf space is utilized, the contents risk being crushed.
Recently I spent several hours across a table from a friend, neither one of us had our phones on the table or checked if an alert rang out. Time was checked only when we realized how much time had passed. I am grateful this hasn’t been an isolated occasion . I have left each person feeling seen, heard and important, I hope they felt the same. This isn’t to say a rushed cup of coffee equates the opposite because sometimes life demands brevity. However to sink into the luxury of time and not the pinch of other obligations can be as different as freeze-dried and french press coffee.
As I look back on my most important conversations of the last year, each required time, to get to the point, to blossom, to be courageous enough to share fully and deeply. Don’t underestimate or shortchange time spent with others. How awful to witness cracks form due to the weight of too much outside pressure.
When my days are filled to overflowing, I instantly feel stressed. I can’t fully be present or engaged when my time is limited and lack control from annoying outside forces like traffic or construction zones. I also feel a sense of dread whenever I know my day will demand sprinting. The hard truth is most of us know on either side of relationships when one party is squeezing time between engagements.
I am trying to look at the squares and rectangles of my planner and expand the margins. Not to add more items but to establish more room for the people and activities I want to nourish and cultivate. I can accomplish this as easily as leaving for appointments 15 minutes earlier than usual. These bonus minutes create a windfall of less clock checking or fuming when inevitable traffic jams occur. In fact, I wonder how many car crashes are due to a driver rushing and attempting to insert a vehicle into too small of a space?
There are two camps perhaps, neither one is better than the other, which is the best news.
The first camp is comprised of those who have figured out how to wrangle each day’s given hours to meet its demands and carve out sufficient time for connecting with others and themselves. This is Camp Whole as they have aligned their lives with a healthy balance of time, commitments and margin. Well done, Camp Whole.
The second camp is for those who find themselves in short supply of time but ample quantities of broken pieces. The pace required to keep up has become unmanageable and discouraging. Welcome to Camp Mosaic. You have the opportunity to pick and choose which shards belong to create days sewn with peace and contentment. You get to decide which parts no longer make the cut. Mosaics create beauty from brokenness. Mosaics reveal a new image from a formerly whole object. Well done, grabbing your glue gun, Camp Mosaic.
There is no competition with either camp because each has the same goal or destination of balance, one camp simply needs more adhesive. Each camp either remains or is being remade.
I am endeavoring to not put ink up my calendar if it will squeeze the vitality out of what already resides in a box. I am slowing down my time with people, so I can look them in the eye and linger over sacred words.
It’s been close to a month and I haven’t shattered anything lately. I have been clearing out some items which have only been taking up space in my house, no longer serving a purpose and helped build unsteady towers.
I am slowly adding epoxy to the broken places of a hurried life.

This post is part of The Slow Collection. You can read the first post here.

 

photo credit: Unsplash

making up for lost time

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I have packed 3 suitcases in 4 weeks.

4 if you count Caleb’s suitcase.

It has been a month worth of trips devoted to celebration of family,

friendship and milestone birthdays.

On either side of the miles traveled,

there have been beautiful meals shared

in terrain where infant pears clung tightly to branches

and bobbing and weaving between bites as

white puffs of cottonwood  filled the

air like cotton candy.

Selfie attempts were warranted and perhaps unsuccessful.

My heart is saturated with people and  conversations

and with unblemished joy of being numbered among so many I cherish.

The sights my eyes have beheld continue to replay in my daydreams and

I marvel at the hushed utterances of such grace, such blessed and sacred

time.

After the bags were unpacked and laundry piles began to subside,

I did what I always do.

I made a list.

A list of all that needed to be done.

You know the list I am talking about.

The list called making up for lost time.

I wanted to accomplish some chores but I also wanted

to rest up and refuel.

Caleb was away visiting his Grands so my week

could be more concentrated on the multitude of tasks before

my eyes.

Each day I crossed off an item or two.

Most mornings, I set a later alarm.

After several days,

I felt more tired than when I stowed away

my luggage.

Then I read this:

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.
You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

~Dallas Willard
(as quoted in this book)

Despite my efforts to keep my days one part productive

and the other part relaxation, my pace had been a

hurried rush.

I was trying to make up for lost time.

I live my days if I am always making up for lost time.

But what is lost time?

Would I consider a trip to see family,

lost time?

Would I ever tell a friend,

“Yes, let’s get together for coffee

even though it will mean I am losing

time according to my grand list of to-do’s” ?

No, it is called spending time with others.

It is all about adding priceless gems to our lives,

not squandering it.

There is no such thing as making up for lost time.

Time is continuous and is meant to be spent.

Making up for “lost time” is as futile as trying

to gather sand in your arms.

There is simply today and the minutes

we determine to use in the course of our day.

Seems I recall Jesus saying to let tomorrow take

care of itself.

Don’t hurry.

Don’t worry about that which remains undone.

Caleb comes home today.

(Oh how I miss that boy!)

The last few days have been different.

I have slowed down.

In case, I didn’t get the message, I also have

a troublesome knee which makes me take

each step with care and gratefulness.

So what is your hurry today?

What’s your worry?

There will never been an end to laundry and

cooking and bill paying.

There will be another weed to pull as soon as I loosen

ten roots.

I apologize for stating the facts.

As much as I dream,

I will never read every great book written.

There is today,

a gift to be used and not hoarded.

A gift to be cherished and celebrated.

Spend it well and don’t deem it as

moments that demand being redeemed later.

Simply cash in every second with sweet abandon.

 

photo credit: Carl Washington