Friday, October 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Care

There is an old Irish proverb, “Don’t be breaking your shin on a stool that’s not in your way.”  I have an old habit of doing just that, and it makes for an unhappy life.

I’m working on it though.  Learning to care responsibly.

I don’t mean hardening my heart to the plight of others, stopping my involvement in worthy causes.  I mean not allowing the pettiness of others to dictate my day.  I was in a pretty bad mood for a couple of years because I let everyone I met affect me.  The cashier who was rude.  The driver who cut me off.  The kids who insist on walking in the middle of the street.

The bus in front of me that won’t go any faster, and the guy who won’t get off my bumper.

The waiter who got my order wrong, and the receptionist who wears that awful cologne.

I cared, alright.  I cared the wrong way about the wrong things, and in all the caring I had misplaced my smile.  Lost my peace.  Nearly lost my mind and my better half.  The question still rings with bell-like clarity, “Why are you always mad?”  She meant angry, but I was really headed for madness.  The world was driving me crazy, and I looked at myself and saw my mother.  I’ve never met anyone angrier, and I’ve never met anyone I wished less to emulate.

It was a wake-up call.

I was going to have to stage my own intervention.

…don’t be breaking your shin…

Finding my smile has involved a deliberate shift in perception.  I can see the stool and not trip over it.  I can be the observer, not the receiver - although when I squint it might look like I'm the target.  The trick is to stop squinting.  The rudeness, the lack of civility, the impoliteness don't have to hurt me, because it’s not about me.  It doesn’t have to climb in my pocket and walk around with me all day, and it sure doesn’t have to hurt the people I do care about.

…on a stool that’s not in your way…

When I get home and put my fuzzy slippers on, the tailgater is nowhere around.  When I leave the store, the cashier is not coming with me.  And maybe if I hadn’t been so angry at the tailgater, I would’ve smiled at the cashier…maybe surprised her into smiling back.

I could’ve pushed that stool out of someone else’s way.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Five Minute Friday - New

Photo courtesy of Jez Elliot, some rights reserved.

It’s an old house, but it’s ours now.  Waking in my old bed to a new view, this garden full of old growth.  Azaleas taller than I am, but we came in July and the blooms won’t come until February.  I wonder what color they will be, and I look forward to February for the first time ever.

Two new bird feeders hang on the two old hooks that were already in the trees, and the old birdbath is clean and full of fresh water.  Now there are new visitors to marvel over.  A mated pair of chirping cardinals, a troop of warbling gnatcatchers, and the nearly silent tiny brown birds that scratch the ground around the starflowers.

I wonder if they are old visitors, glad someone new has come.

The garden is green, but I can name many of the plants and know they will flower.  Cannas, azalea, lantana, king's mantle, trumpet.  A dogwood that made me cry when I recognized the leaves.  A fruiting orange tree.  A garden made for butterflies and hummers, made for spring.  A gift from the people before, more precious than anyone can know, except the lady who planted them.  She knows.

I have planted new ones, pentas and passion flower vine, to host caterpillars for the butterflies that are frequent visitors and to fill in this long flowerless green spell.

I saw the first hummingbird last weekend, unexpected without blooms to draw them.

Maybe he remembers when the flowers were there.

Maybe he heard someone new had come…someone who filled the bath and the feeders, who was already digging in the soil, and putting down new roots.

Maybe he’d like a new friend.