I realize this is painfully obvious. But I just have to say it, to get it out of my system.
I’m — getting — older!
Parents of young children look to me like they are still in college. People in college look like they are in high school. People in high school certainly appear to be in middle school. I’m only on base with children under 10 as far as guessing ages any more.
I look in the mirror. I see grey hairs. I see wrinkles. Sure, I’ve had the wrinkles between my eyebrows ever since I got windburn on my motorcycle trip to Minnesota with Uncle Dwight when I was seventeen, but I have a lot more wrinkles than those now.
Please tell me that I’m not the only person who truly thought she would be exempt from growing old?
Growing up, yes, I saw that coming, but growing old, never. Intellectually I know people don’t live forever. But some part of me just seems to assume I will.
In the past, I observed other people’s children growing up, and read obituaries, and noticed those old people over there at the next table.
But now, yep. I seem to actually be a member of the human race. Just like those old people over there. The ones who aren’t really that old.
Speaking of which, when you read the paper, have you noticed how young many of the couples look who are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversaries?
I thought I would get off scott-free this time, when the entire first week of school went by and I felt perfectly normal.
After all, we’ve already done this. We’ve said goodbye to our son in the dorm lobby, prayed with him, and hauled the huge tubs back to the van for the trip back home so he doesn’t have to try to store them in his dorm.
It is different this time. It just didn’t register as fast.
But about ten days in, I started feeling a bit raw.
Small things. Or maybe big things. How big is an empty bedroom? It has clean sheets piled on the bed, that haven’t been re-made yet.
Well, mistakenly setting the table for five. That’s relatively small.
So is thinking the van would be completely packed for the trip to the concert last Sunday with Grandma and Grandpa. Then eventually the realization that there are not seven people in this party.
What however is the littlest painful thing?
It’s what’s missing.
There’s a little cheerful bright blue light on our router that remains on whenever wireless is working. Zach finally asked me to stop turning it off each morning and just leave it so he could do his class this summer. He promised me the radiation wouldn’t damage me significantly. So it was on from mid-June until he left.
Now it isn’t.
Each time I see that, right next to the fridge and the trash in the kitchen, where I am working all the time, it scrapes the wound again.
It’s tender and doesn’t like being picked back off. It flares in a burst of remembrance, concern, grief, loss, panic, all in about two seconds and then settles down again to just plain remembering. But that’s kind of how it goes.
this morning on my way to an early appointment
cattle black mounds in fields
sheets of gauze over the fields
nothing quite real yet
on one leg still dozing by the pond
steam rising from the water like the heat of some peaceful caldera
in mist pink September
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via Battle For The Net.
I’ve been deceived all these years.
Or maybe I was just deceiving myself.
With the slow turn of the seasons, I welcomed back the aspects of those times I liked most.
When a cold front blows in September, blues the sky, and knocks down leaves, I’m so glad to open the windows and let it in.
There’s a certain damp smell in spring in Kentucky that happens in March. You know winter really will end.
And with every season, there are holidays and landmarks that you count on. School starts up. It’s time to pick pumpkins. Christmas is coming. You know there will always be Tax Day. Spring break is definitely looked forward to with a good level of enthusiasm, especially when you are anticipating driving south through Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, spring fast-forwarding around you in dogwoods, red-buds and azaleas, until you arrive at the beach.
These landmarks of my life are reliable. They return annually, which brings joy and comfort.
What deceives me is the feeling that they are thus the same.
But they’re not. It’s not the same spring break, not the same Thanksgiving, not the same anything.
We don’t get a re-do.
I don’t mean in a spiritual sense with God. He is the author of second chances and forgiveness.
I just mean there’s no re-do for any given day.
Obvious, of course, but not in my heart.
When I have a bad day I can find myself playing the what-if game. When I spend a good day with friends, inside myself I’m thinking how good it will be to do it again.
I can pick a day that’s now in the past, which was really blessed, and I realize that not only did I treasure the day,but some part of me believed it was a preface to more days–just like it–with those people.
Thankfully, of course, there is consistency in my life. I do get to see many of the same people, most weeks. But to assume those same dear people will assemble again in the same way another day is to fool myself.
I don’t spend much time thinking this, usually, because, frankly, it’s disturbing.
Lord willing I will use this reality to live fully in each moment, not thinking about the what-ifs, or wishing that day was different, but being grateful for what is, and who is there with me.
If there is one word you could use to describe me, this would be it.
I’m emotionally sensitive, morally sensitive, physically sensitive, sensorily sensitive, and probably several other kinds of sensitive.
I can’t handle conflict amongst friends or even acquaintances and will sometimes literally go hide.
I feel horrible when something comes up that I think is wrong which I can do nothing about, or if I have done something wrong, I find it difficult to receive forgiveness and stop feeling guilt.
When I take a new medication or supplement, about 75% of the time, you guessed it, I have to discontinue said substance because it causes side effects, often side effects that I am not “supposed” to be experiencing.
I don’t go to concerts, aside from classical music, because they are just too loud, too many people, too many lights. I can’t watch a scary or intense movie before bedtime, because I get so into it that I cannot go to sleep.
Shoot, I can’t even finish a difficult book all in one sitting. I have checked out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch twice and I still haven’t finished it. I’ve got about 130 pages to go and I’m so connected with Theo Decker that I think I am him or his mother or Pippa. And I just can’t keep reading right now. I have to step back and find a safer place for a while.
My father in law once said, when I got my fur rubbed the wrong way by one of his off-hand comments, that I was just too sensitive.
At the time I was offended, but now I fully agree. He was right! I am.
I might as well be a red-head, which would have been some compensation, because I definitely fit the stereotype of thin-skinned and hot-tempered! And furthermore, sunlight doesn’t make me tan. I either burn or make more freckles…..
My life would be more straightforward and I would waste a lot less time getting my feelings hurt, if I weren’t so sensitive.
So I wonder, what is the good of this ridiculous sensitivity?
So every year for the past four years, our family has packed up our gear, hooked up the pop-up trailer, and gone on a camping trip.
We really traveled. We went to the Southwest, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, back to the southwest to see more of Arches and Capitol Reef and to meet Canyonlands for the first time. Then last year, we went to South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Bighorn Canyon, the Helena area, Hebgen Lake, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
So, yes, we have done a lot of camping and traveling. It was a good bit of work, but hey…it was fun!
My parents took us camping starting when I was about 9 and my brother was 2, and we moved around a lot because Dad had itchy feet. So maybe I get this tendency from him. I also got used to living west of the Mississippi where the air isn’t quite so thick and where you can see for miles.
I’m glad I got to go camping all those times. I know many people who haven’t had those opportunities.
I have found a down side to it though.
When you’re used to going every year, staying home seems a bit tame.
I had thought maybe we would camp this fall, but after 2013’s epic list of trips (see previous posts), my man declined to take us all out in the pop up again.
However, it was only after he told me about a dream he had that I truly understood how different our responses to these incredible trips had been.
“I had this dream,” he told me.
“In it, the van was attached to the pop-up. There was also a hitch on the front of the van.”
“Attached to the front of the van was a bicycle…and guess who was riding it?”
“Who?” I asked.
“Me,” he replied. “I was pulling the entire rig myself using the bicycle, with all of you in the van yelling suggestions out the windows.”
I am pretty sure that, among other things, this might mean we are not going camping this year.
Well, he is correct that we will save time, money, wear on the van, and a whole lot of effort. I have actually gotten quite a few projects done this year that have been on my list for probably months, if not a couple of years. And we have gotten to enjoy a normal summer — we’ve been blessed to participate in three graduations, one wedding, one Fourth of July with two different sets of friends, berry picking with friends and family and each other, and a host of other summer delights.
And it’s weird that I want to keep going on these excursions, since I’m not exactly a high-powered high energy person. I’m nothing like the Testosterone Trio, 3 guys we camped next to at Zion, who were loading up to go rock climbing starting before daylight. It’s not like I’m getting up at 5 a.m. to go hike 10 miles each day while we’re out. I’m neither a morning person nor a night owl. So…..why do I want to go?
I just love being on the move and being in wide open incredible spaces.
I’m glad we took so many pictures of Grand Teton and Yellowstone and Utah. No description can do these places justice, so I’m not going to try in this post. I can look at them and remind myself that I was really there. And blessed to be there.
But when I see the pictures part of me just wants to go back.
Can we leave tomorrow?