Warren discovered them. Three of the four were at the moldy, soft stage; the fourth was at the really yucky leaking stage. So while the oatmeal got cold out in the kitchen, we cleaned up pumpkins.
This was a full morning. I had to get to a meeting in Columbus. Cleaning up rotting pumpkins was not on my schedule. By the time I left the house, I was frustrated with the pumpkins, stressed over time, and wondering if I had everything I needed. The car windows were covered with condensation, so I had to go back in the house to get towels to wipe them. I had no money for parking in downtown Columbus, so had to factor in a quick stop at the grocery where I needed to pick up one item anyway. All these things tumbled through my mind while I grew tense about the ticking clock in my mind.
Poor Warren. He looked at me with love and concern while I brushed off his offers for help. "I can do it!," I said through gritted teeth. "Just let me take care of it." All he wanted to do was make things easier for me this morning, but I was in such a state of mind that I couldn't let my walls down to let him take care of me. (When I got to Columbus, I called him and left a voicemail that I had arrived, I had stopped hyperventilating, and I loved him.)
En route to Columbus, my mind started looping on Dr. Bully and what I would say to my oncologist in mid-December in response to the question I suspect is coming. ("What happened?") When I wasn't looping on Dr. Bully, I was worrying over a list of "to dos" (or, more honestly, "not dones").
To break the loop, I put on a radio station loudly. Between the morning show and the music, I managed to shut the internal loop off in my head. I arrived in Columbus with no loop, but not much peace of mind either. My thoughts raced in all directions while I walked to the meeting.
The meeting started out slowly and my attention wandered far and wide. I found myself making notes and lists to myself, trying to shake out my tangled thoughts. They're all in a clutter.
Everything is cluttered right now.
My life is cluttered right now. My desk is cluttered, the coffee table is cluttered, the kitchen table is cluttered. Grocery receipts, store ads, the program booklet from yesterday's conference, a card from Warren's sister, letters I need to answer.
Clutter, clutter, clutter.
My mind is cluttered right now. Sam's situation is nagging at me. (It turns out the ex told Sam before he moved back to Ohio that I would pay his rent. Not just one month but all months until Sam gets a job. Did the ex ask me? No.) Court matters are on my mind. Emails I need to answer are tugging at my brain cells.
Clutter, clutter, clutter.
My time is cluttered right now. We have had many, many nights out (evening meetings) for the last several weeks. December 2009 is almost filled in on my calendar and I am already starting to mark up January 2010. While I sat there today, I noted all the repeating dates I have yet to pen in on 2010: United Way board meetings (4th Monday every other month), legal clinic (3rd Tuesday of the month), mediation (Thursday afternoons), coffee with Nancy (1st Thursday of the month).
Clutter, clutter, clutter.
I ended up jotting down a list of what I "want." My list read like this:
- less clutter
- more control over schedule
- more disciplined with my time
- cleaner house* - dusty floors, shower needs cleaned, what is that in the fridge?
- personal time: read, write, Warren, projects, friends
[*Note: I am not what you would call a neat-as-a-pin homemaker. I have a high tolerance for dust. I have a high tolerance for things in the house, including shop equipment, ongoing projects, and six timpani. I can tolerate all of that. But right now we are way past my breakpoint on surface level clutter.]
When I attended a "Bridges Out of Poverty" workshop this summer, the speaker said people with middle class values like to make lists and check things off as they accomplish them. This is so engrained as a value that if they have accomplished something not on their list, they will often write it in and then cross it off as a sign of accomplishment.
I thought of that statement as I looked at my list. I'm not sure my wants lend themselves to being crossed off.
The meeting picked up midway through the morning and I set my notes aside. At lunch, the five of us (it was a small meeting) told personal stories about where we came from and how we got into this field (mediation). Small, intimate notes were exchanged. Martha used to keep a herd of Jersey cows and was an accomplished cheese maker. Kathy was a county commissioner at one time. Mac was in the Army and did three tours of duty during Desert Storm.
While sharing his story, Mac said he tries to find the good in each day, adding, "I'm just skipping along in God's grace." He rapped a rhythm with his knuckles against the tabletop while he said that.
Skipping is a lighthearted act. Skipping is the unfettered and unburdened gait of a happy child.
I am looking at my list again, now that I am home and typing these words. It is interesting that time or time management is three of the five points. Time seems to be my continual stumbling block. Sometimes what I perceive as clutter - mental and physical - is more my banging my head against the clock and the calendar than anything else.
I can go on wrestling with time and its accompanying clutter, getting frustrated with its unmanageability, or I can consciously step back and let it flow by.
I can choose to let it go.
I can skip along in the grace of the moment.