Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slowing Down

As my family and I settle into our school year schedules--as usual, we're dealing with four different schools, and my elder son is a very involved high school freshman--I have been thinking about time: having it, enjoying it, making the most of it, treasuring it. Now that Son #1 is a ninth grader, I am very aware of how soon he'll be headed off to college, since the ninth graders I teach today are juniors tomorrow and then --gone.

At the same time, my time/our time/time in general seems more cram-jam packed than ever. September featured a dizzying array of orientation meetings for my school, my husband's school, both the boys' schools, all their activities, and then various update meetings once those organizations got underway. Throw in two cross country schedules, my two outside committees, one birthday, and boom! It was a crazy month.

But--it was also a chosen month, and that's what I've been trying to force to the front of my mind and my heart lately. We have all chosen our activities, and they are all (I'm only being a tiny bit generous there) welcome and important and mostly well-run. One of the biggest, church, is a deliberate choice, and not always a popular one with all the members of our household (Son #1 at age nine, being marched to car at 9:45 on a Sunday: "Mom, I don't even think I believe in God." Me: "Yeah, sometimes I feel that way too. Get in the car."), but there are valuable reasons behind it and beloved faces and activities as part of it. The fundraising suppers got us out and sitting down to eat with friends we see too rarely; the meets have gotten me and my husband out in this lovely fall weather and younger son in particular active in a new arena.

And, ultimately, the question is what life is about, at its core. I'm listening to Barbara Kingsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in the car, and today she discussed the time demands of farming and how she's come to view them as part of a life lived deliberately and fully. Similarly, I've come to resist the teacher disease of enduring the weeks to get to the weekends, of tearing through my errands, sighing and tapping my feet when I'm held up. What we have is time: and is life about prying out another half an hour to lie on the couch reading a book which (see my earlier blog) might not be so good anyway? No, I have decided that life is about enjoying the things that make up our days. If we have chosen well, if we have made sound and careful decisions, the things we have to do will be worthy of our time and our attention. They'll be what we feel pleased to do, what gives us joy. "Life," as some sage said, "is what happens when you are making plans for tomorrow." As I gape at our full calendar, I work to keep that idea in my head, and to see these commitments as what I get to do, not what I gotta do.

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