Sunday, April 15, 2012

With a No. 3 Pencil

There is a scene in the 1972 novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, which I still remember vividly 40 years later (probably because I read the novel so many times as a teenager). Sasha (the title character) is in college and has had an epiphany: time is a continuum, time is interconnected. If she taped a strip of paper around her room, she could fill in the various benchmarks of civilization and thus gain total understanding. Sasha had different colors ink for the different disciplines and planned on using a hard pencil (No. 3) for adding the fine details.

That scene came to mind Saturday morning not because I was trying to divine total knowledge but because I was in that uneasy and uncomfortable state of "under-the-weather-but-not-out-and-out-sick."  I was out with Warren at the time, waiting in the car while he ran a quick errand, and I needed to take my mind off of myself and my sorry state.

So I decided to think of all the blessings in my life so I could stop focusing on how I was feeling right that minute. I decided to list all the things in my life for which I am grateful.


My thoughts went something like this: "A: Alise, Amy, apples, almonds, artichokes; B: Ben, baby, books, baking, Bethany, blue; C: children, community, Cindy, chocolate; D: Don, Dodie, Delaware, doughnuts..."

You get the point.

Only, as I went along, people and things I am grateful for would pop into my mind out of sequence. And then my thoughts went something like this: "I forgot daffodils! How could I forget daffodils? Those go in D. F: family, friends; G: Gerald, giraffes. No wait, I need forsythia in F. And Alice in Wonderland in A."

That is when the scene from Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen came to mind. If I ran a blessings line around the perimeter of a room and started filling it in, I'd have to keep going back to add items. I'd have to use a No. 3 pencil to get a hard, sharp point to be able to do all the detail work.

One room would not contain my blessings line, no matter how tiny I wrote.

Warren came back to the car around L (love, Linda, lilacs...). I'd already gone back numerous times to A through K to add more people and things for which I am grateful, for which and whom I am blessed to have in my life. I never made it to Z (zebras).

Did I feel better after spending some time mentally penciling items on my blessings line? If you are measuring how I felt physically, not really. When I scribbled the longhand version of this post out Saturday afternoon, the jury was still out. It took a nap during dress rehearsal to turn that corner.

But otherwise did I feel better? Absolutely.

I am at my best when I center my thoughts on the wonders of the world around me. I am at my strongest when I reflect upon the gifts that shower down upon me daily. I am my happiest when I remember to breathe a prayer of gratitude for my life, for this life, and all that I have in it.

When I stop and recognize those gifts, give them a name, accept them with open hands, then I am complete.

With or without a No. 3 pencil.


I will be linking up with both Deidra and Michelle on this one.


Emily said...

Yes! Gratitude does seem to change our countenance, if not our physical health :) Hoping that by now you can give thanks for that too?
Visiting by way of Jumping Tandem today :)

caryjo said...

Good way of focusing on blessings. When I'm going to sleep, I don't count sheep; I worship and praise and do similar to what you are describing. Need to do it more often!!!

Terri said...

I wonder if I have read memoirs...

But this blessing counting reminds me of a prayer I do when I cannot sleep. I try to take a breath for each and every significant person in my life and the numbers of such people are huge and I forget some and make myself start all over...

I've been in a funk and now I'm wondering if I'm feeling sorry for myself or if my body really isn't up to par.

see you there! said...

Naming things makes them more powerful for me and naming my gratitudes seems to center me when I'm feeling our of focus. Of course a good nap works wonders too.