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It was never intentional.

I let myself get distracted by the quarter inch of dust over the stove’s exhaust, by the bare refrigerator, by the cat who wanted her mousey thrown again and again. Then there was lunch, and the cleaning up after lunch, and the laundry basket that never empties.

The rational part of me says that some days will be like this. That I shouldn’t expect to win every battle, much less a battle everyday.  In order to fight and win, you have to endure some endless days of marching.

Besides, I have a cold.

Remember the time Penelope Trunk wrote about selling her son’s goat for slaughter? That’s what I feel like I’ve done with you. Except she was able to save the goat and I’m afraid the only happy ending in my story is called tomorrow.

I know tomorrow is an unreliable friend.  He makes a lot of promises he doesn’t keep and doesn’t seem all that repentant.  And I still keeping lending him money.

I also know when I’ve been on a plane that was bucking like an untamed horse, I forgot all about tomorrow.  A surge of yesterdays crowded into my memory, eager for one last replay.  And not the ones you might expect.   They were the ones filled with small joys, like walking without purpose or listening to my daughter entertain herself with a blanket.

Happy sounds

I am writing this letter with my cat Pico stretched out in my lap.  When people see her, they always ask me if she’s pregnant.  No one ever asks me why her name is the same as the Spanish word for small.  Which means I can’t think about her without being both happy and sad.

She used to be skinny.  Now she gets fed too much because it is hard to do my work with a demanding cat and only 1300 square feet of living space.

I worry she’s lost years of her life to my unwillingness to curb her appetite. But I also knows she’s gained a lot compared to her days on the street, where she fractured her fangs from trying to eat the inedible out of desperation.

If it’s true that owners resemble their pets, I wonder if I am like Pico at her most desperate, or when she has all she needs and takes it for granted.

We both know this isn’t the last letter I’ll write.  We’ve had this argument before.  The truth is, I don’t really know where this is going.

And maybe that’s the whole point.

In my work, there’s a lot of urgency to “Do the work you were born to do!” or “Don’t die with your song still inside you!”

It’s easy to find myself straining, like I’m trying to understand someone speaking over a muffled loudspeaker. Is this my stop?  Do I need to change trains? Am I going the right way?

Of course, you and universe could care less.  There are no answers. No grand plans. No need to apologize.

I stumbled on some poems I’d written years ago, like the me-at-35 tapping the me-at-41 on the shoulder.  ”Look at this,” she said.

Imagine the geode of this world cracked open,
the radiance of everyday objects revealed—
the tea kettle and its shimmer of steam,
the spoon’s hazy splendor, the window’s
white cascade, every bush burning…

If I ever had something that could be called a mantra, this would be it: the extraordinary is hidden in the ordinary.

Can you see me?

Ze Frank says it more plainly.

What if this is happiness? What if happiness is the practice of a slow calligraphy of these small gestures?

I realize how funny it is to worry I haven’t been productive.  Most days are filled with mental jumping jacks and I call that success.  Today I’ve produced something real, tangible: a clean kitchen and a cat who is entertaining herself with the remaining bit of mess.

I don’t know what my expectations were from you or why I felt like my needs weren’t met.  I guess it’s like any relationship.  Misunderstandings grounded in nothing.

But I thought you’d like to know that when I picked up my daughter from school and asked her, “How was your day?”  She told me, “I don’t remember.”  I smiled and replied, “Me either.”

Then we ran up the hill, hand in hand, to go do nothing worth remembering … together.

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23 Responses to Dear Today, I’m Sorry I Wasted Our Time Together

    • On
    • March 26, 2013 at 11:27 am
    • Marianne
    • Said...

    Move over :). As I age (69 bordering on 70-NOV), I too realize I dont remember much of the day – or yesterday either;) But it doesnt matter. What is important, we do remember, the smile on our childs face at an unexpected joy/treat, the kiss from our special someone, soft and sweet as a peach, the laughter at a joke, the tears we shared over death of loved ones,the hole they leave behind and the joy of our memories. In last few months, I have rejoiced at wedding of my son’s friend and my adopted niece; mourned at the passing of my aunt, my dad’s last relative;said goodbye-God bless to friends going to live in Thailand for a year (worrying over their safety). Those I remember. The times I share with my adult children are preciouis even more to me now.
    I have a rescue dog I didnt plan to have; a rescued kitten now adult who was dumped on streets- again unplanned. They welcome me home and make me laugh, share my chair, share my bed when it suits. I am loved and I love. God is good.

    • Haha! I love that “move over” line! It’s a good point, Marianne. The unplanned bits are often some of the best life has to offer. Thanks for your note.

  1. Jen, Another compelling and remarkable post. You never disappoint! ~Dawn

    • Jen, I can’t quite believe it. Finally, after all those months, the gremlin that had been interfering with my comments here and with Cherry has somehow disappeared. It’s a great day! Hope all’s well with you. ~Dawn

    • I can’t believe I never disappoint, but I’m happy to hear I didn’t do it with THIS post. LOL. And so glad the WordPress deities have stopped picking on you. I thought they were being quite unfair. Great to be back in touch!

  2. Oh, how much I *love* this beautiful gift to my completely distracted mind and heart today. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To know I am not alone – oh so good. I feel like joining the love note writing you’ve got here…

    Dear Yesterday,
    How I wish I had known what today would be like so that I could celebrate how much you brought and how focused I actually was. I’m just so happy you invited me to give up and go to Barnes & Noble to read books with the girls and eat overly sweet treats. Today, even synchronizing that kind of trek seems out of reach. And yet, no one is sick and everyone around me seems regular. It’s an ordinary day again.
    Love, Me.

    • Love that you added a love note to Yesterday. Brilliant and after all, Yesterday is equally deserving. And yes, you are most definitely not alone!

  3. I am so, so happy that you have written this and chose to share it. It’s just beautiful, Jen. So heartfelt and honest. So quiet and yet fierce.

    I have been struggling with something that sounds like it may share a kinship with the feelings you’ve experienced. I haven’t yet found the words to describe it adequately. It’s too full of dichotomies – a restless grounding, an anxious peace, a surging retreat. Like you, I’m not sure where this is going, but I do know that I am ever so willing to follow, despite the uncertainty.

    Change feels overdue, but not a grasping, climbing, straining change … a settling, falling into, opening up change.

    We’ll see … we’ll see …

    xo

    • Thank you, thank you! You know how nervous I was to do this, wondering if it would connect with anyone besides me, myself, and I. It was a good reminder of what Jon Morrow told me once, “If you aren’t a little afraid to hit the publish button, you haven’t reached enough with your writing.”

      I like your description of competing dichotomies. I still feel that I am struggling to find the right balance of things, and primarily the right timescale for that balance. I want to be busy sometimes, and other times I want to relax. But how do you design for that? Maybe I’ve gotten as close as one can? The only way to know is to keep fiddling and experimenting, which thankfully is something I’m good at. :)

      Let’s keep in touch and check in on our … progress?

      • You’re so welcome. Honestly, Jen, reading your post kind of made my day. It always feels good to read someone else’s writing and think, “Oh – thank goodness. It’d not just me!” ;)

        The quest for balance is always tricky. I’ve heard it said that balance is a verb, not a noun. It’s an ever-changing state, not a final destination. When I think about balance, I think about being on a tightrope and having to hold perfectly still – almost not breathing – to keep from falling off. Doesn’t sound that comfortable, does it? Also doesn’t leave much room for stretching or moving.

        I think what I’m after is a “grounded flow” (yes – more dichotomy) – a state of knowing who I am and where I stand, but being able to naturally flow from that place through creative, productive, and fallow stages of projects and pursuits.

        God, it sounds so pretentious when I write it out, but it’s certainly not meant that way!

        YES. We’ll keep in touch, keep experimenting, and keep on seeing what’s around the next corner.

        Happy experimenting! xo

        • Yes to say that I think your description of balance versus being grounded is BY FAR the best way of looking at it that I’ve heard. Won’t you write that up into a guest post for me? Your ideas about what we’re really after and how to get there? I’ll send you an email. Thanks so much for that. You really helped my thinking. This is why I love blogging!!

    • On
    • March 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm
    • Portia
    • Said...

    Jen – I so love this post! You know, I used to frustrated that I got distracted so much by bright shiny things, but I don’t mind so much anymore. Not that I don’t push myself to “do more” “achieve more” etch but it’s been tempered by a profound appreciation that today is unique and will never be like yesterday or tomorrow. My favorite line in this post is:

    “Of course, you and universe could care less. There are no answers. No grand plans. No need to apologize.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

    • That does sum it up! I nearly ended the post there, but was too tempted to include the poem snippet and the link to the Ze Frank video. I guess the benefit of writing your own blog is that you get to be indulgent.

      I am actually finding quite a bit of satisfaction from focus these days. I’ve had to force myself into it, but when I do, there’s something … deeply satisfying in it. Obviously the day I wrote this post wasn’t one of my focused days, but it was a good reminder that there is something deeply fulfilling in any day if you look for it.

    • On
    • March 26, 2013 at 5:34 pm
    • C.R.
    • Said...

    Here’s the version to watch:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2fYXfBYxjY

  4. Such a beautiful post Jen. I love this line:

    In my work, there’s a lot of urgency to “Do the work you were born to do!” or “Don’t die with your song still inside you!”

    There’s too much pressure to do, do, do and achieve when really we need to learn to just be. Enjoy that clean house, cute cat and gorgeous daughter of yours :)

    • Yes, we both suffer from that pressure, and I realize more and more that’s its internal. No one to blame but myself. But I feel like I’m making progress on dealing with, and on the days I don’t, being more gentle with myself. I really am enjoying my clean kitchen, the cats and of course my daughter. I’ve given all three my attention today and it feels great! :)

  5. Oh you you YOU! Oh yes yes yes . . . the most delightful thing I’ve read all month.

    Thanks for adding to my smile lines . . .

    Evan

  6. Jen,

    There are not a lot of blogs I follow, but for the ones I do, you are by far at the top of the list. I thoroughly enjoy your writing.

    By the way, we have four cats – all previously strays adopted and now strictly indoors – one of which tops the scales at 22 lbs. I think she remembers what it was like not knowing where the next meal was coming from,

    Regards,
    Bill

    • Bill,
      You produced a 10.0 on the smile scale this morning. Thanks for your kind note. It’s an interesting idea that perhaps once you’ve been hungry, you’re always liable to eat too much when you have it, out of fear that the sustenance might not last. That does help me put my mind at ease a bit. Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Blog Roundup (3-29-13) | Blonde & Balanced

    • On
    • April 24, 2013 at 9:57 am
    • Esther
    • Said...

    I stumbled upon your blog when reading comments in Jon Morrow’s course (that I am currently taking). Your comment was funny so I was let here…Love this post! : ) Food for thought…

    • Thanks, Esther. I cannot imagine what funny comment I might have made, but I’m happy it led you here. Welcome!