Several months ago, my father forwarded an email to me with a video clip.
If the first thing you do is look at the running time of this and decide it’s too long, today’s meditation is for you.
The other day, “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin came on the radio. Knowing the lyrics, I sang along on auto-pilot. But the last part of the song hit me this time: I said “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”. He said “I’d love to Dad, if I could find the time…
I am now the child-come-adult in this song. I have become the over-scheduled, too-busy person who can’t make time for the people in her life.
When, and more importantly how, did this happen? Family is one of the most important things to me, so why did I let being hyper-booked get in between that?
I had a rare 60-minute unscheduled block of time last Saturday, where my dog had to stay at the vet for 1 hour between tests, unplanned. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself, but I knew “grocery shopping” was on the to-do list for somewhere in the day. Perfect.
I visited a local grocer that I hadn’t been to since I was a child with my mom. It is a very small store that is a world away from anything else. It is one of the last businesses still going in this otherwise run-down and shuttered industrial town, but inside the people are as vibrant as the fresh-cut flowers that greet you.
My attention was first grabbed by the vast selection of specialty cheeses… each made at the store. Blueberry cheddar; dill Havarti; smoked Gouda; and my holiday favorite – cranberry white cheddar. I then found myself surveying sugar cane, guava, and sapodilla – produce not common to my grocer in the next town over (or many others in this northern state). And then, I caught myself just wandering… somewhat aimlessly, but also contentedly, down each and every aisle, even though I didn’t need anything nearby.
In sum, the hour or so I spent in this quaint, local grocery store was really exceptional. And I don’t know that I would have appreciated it as much if I (a) didn’t have an unscheduled hour to kill, and (b) wasn’t otherwise normally so painfully busy.
Why the rat race?
Why dedicating every hour of every day to something? Why can’t we just have … “down time”? I know I am guilty of this: if I don’t have something planned, if I have idle time, I somehow feel guilty… that I am being useless. So I fill it up. Even my Saturdays look like: 8am – laundry. 10am – grocery/errands. 1pm – put up Christmas lights. 2:30pm … etc.
Find the unscheduled hour in your day. Find it and go somewhere and take notice of something you would otherwise pass by without looking. Walk through your downtown. Look in the store windows. Read the [gasp!] newspaper on Sunday morning. Slow down when you speak with your family; they would like part of your hour, too.
Find your hour. And find yourself.