Patience, Grasshopper

imgres-1Summer vacation always makes me initially euphoric and then depressed.  I have time to work on long-term goals but constantly feel I am not using my time well. I use much of my free time to visit my almost 97 year old mother, which puts me in the company of very elderly, sometimes suffering and confused people and brings me face to face with reminders of my own frailty and mortality.

I don’t blame you if you stop reading right here.

Not only that, here’s a big THIRD WORLD PROBLEM WHINING ALERT I am ashamed to say.  But I will proceed.  Maybe I’ll delete it all later.

I am a hard worker and love my teaching job.  I won’t bore you with a list, but people who know me wonder at all the balls I keep up in the air, which to me are passions and values I try to keep alive.  And like many of my readers, I try to do all of them well.

So on my second week of summer vacation, I find myself once again dismayed at the thought of doing something mundane like vacuuming up cat hair, which is not only a good and necessary thing to do but extra necessary as I will have a dinner guest soon who is allergic- at the expense of my ambitious list of things to accomplish this summer.

Am I the only one who has this problem?

Just picking up prescriptions, putting gas in the car, ironing summer linens, and fetching groceries become sad alternatives to …. What?

Well, what I’ll call mid-level goals, like cleaning out the garage and the workroom.  Getting a plumber to fix the leak.  Getting new glasses. Writing relatives.

And when I work on those I’ll be flogging myself that I am not working on my writing, or learning another language, or getting strong and fit.

And meanwhile age is creeping in- crepy neck and arthritis in thumbs and big toes.  Funny little twinges, but nuisance reminders of one day becoming the old lady scooting with her feet in her wheelchair, behind spread out and back curved, eyes peering up above thick lenses.  (The lenses I already have.)

How un-zen is this!  What whiny drivel!  I can see it, I can name it, I am calling out this ungrateful and unproductive attitude, so why do I still feel it?

As I write (a goal), I think, is this the thing I should be writing?  As I cook, is this the best thing for me to be cooking?  As I read, is this what I should be spending my time reading?  As I mentally flog myself, is this how I should feel about myself?

Of course the answer is no.  I know I should value each day and each small effort toward the good.    “Patience, grasshopper,” as my husband likes to quote the old Kung Fu TV series.

I think that’s how I must end this diatribe to myself today.  Patience, grasshopper.  You are just one small creature who can only see so high above the grass surrounding us.  Do what you can.  Allow time.  Your life is not of great importance but every life has import and is valued.  As you live and work, practice patience with yourself.

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6 thoughts on “Patience, Grasshopper

  1. I could have written these exact words myself. It has helped me a lot this summer to create a list in my journal of everything I want to accomplish — from calling the insurance company to ironing shirts to finishing a book. Checking off every little things has seemed to give me a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment in these slow, lazy days of summer. It makes me feel like I am doing something.

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  2. Wow, thank you for putting into words exactly what I was feeling a week ago. My demeanor changed the minute we left town on a road trip so now I am back home and thinking to myself how can I keep my road trip attitude alive in my arm chair where the dust bunnies grow exponentially beneath? Because it wasn’t like we were crazy busy on the road but each day we anticipated an “unknown.” So I’m thinking I need to look more for the unknowns whilst dilly dallying with all the have-tos.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging comment! I agree that it isn’t a problem while travelling. I like your last line about how to keep a healthy road trip attitude while dealing with the daily have to’s. Or, rather, dilly dallying with them- wonderful phrasing! I may just hold onto the phrase “road trip attitude!”

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  3. My husband likes to say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Sometimes that is easier said than done. Hang in there — these mundane activities will be wished for in a few weeks. At least that’s how it works for me. 😉

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  4. Perhaps, as teachers, we spend so much of our year chasing all that has to be done that we forget how to simmer on the little things we’d like to do. Since none of it is pressing, I find I have a hard time prioritizing. The struggle is real. ;o) Hang in there!

    Cathy

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  5. You so clearly name the attitude I often have. Is it because I am a teacher who juggles SO much 10 months out of the year. So summers and winter vacation, I just can’t seem to find the joy in doing for myself (I so need to go to the eye doctor!) or clean up all those dust bunnies! I loved how you ended with the phrase and image of the grasshopper. Such a great slice. Thanks for sharing! (I’m glad I went back to find it and read…missed it last week.

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