The unspoken word comes up more often than I’d like. It’s insidiuous.
I feel its presence as I stare at to-do lists written on the squares in my calendar; the box to check, empty. Close behind comes procrastination as I ponder all of the other things I could or should be doing. My daydreaming state activates; my eyes glaze over and time passes in a blink. At the end of the day the guilt sets in; the to-do list undone. What happened?
What is surprising is that this boredom is resurfacing during the season that keeps me the busiest; the holidays. In clearing my schedule I am finding myself twiddling my thumbs. Past distractions included absorption with my PC or phone and the apps that accompany them: Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Orchestrating gatherings and parties; spur-of-the-moment. Heading projects and committees. Expanding an idea from the simple original one into something grand; involving a lot of time and effort. Projects and lists. Shopping and gifts.
In tamping down on these tendencies and saying the word, “no,” to meaningless dross, my mind lays idle. The boredom presents itself because my brain needs to become focused on doing something. Something of VALUE.
- Reconciling books, paying bills. Boring.
- Cooking dinners, washing clothes, grocery shopping and cleaning house. Boring.
- Chauffeuring children here, there and everywhere. Boring.
- Attending seminars, meetings or social gatherings. Boring.
- Being with my family. Boring.
All of the above are the ins and outs of daily living. Real life. I ponder if I am checking out or depressed. The twinkling lights usually spur me into an activity frenzy. When the middle son casually mentioned to the hubs that I seemed disinterested in working with him on his saxophone; the hubs gave me a nudge. To which my response was. I’m busy.
And I was. Busy doing the things I had to do. Waking unwilling kids each morning, making school lunches, dropping same unwilling offspring, to schools and practices. Washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, cooking dinners. Running bank errands, typing emails and providing customer service. I sat in my home as my the other members of my family, headphones plugged into computers; played online. The hubs sat at the DVR watching recorded episodes of Doctor Who or The Walking Dead. The Kindle, filled with four books to read on my device, lay open; the words unseen on the paper white page.
I felt like one of those zombies. The boredom had settled into the recesses of my mind. It is easy; to be bored.
It is much harder to mentally change my mindset. To align my focus on what is valuable and to define what valuable means. I called to the son to practice his saxophone. Soon the silver Xeno emerged from its case; the eldest sitting alongside. With the tree lights switched on and two musical pieces simultaneously echoing within the walls of my home I, unwittingly, slid the lid of my piano open to join in the cacophony of noise.
And became amazed. Amazed that my fingers could still play the music to “White Christmas,” memorized at age twelve (this middle son’s age). Soon my mind began to engage and when I got stuck with the musical passage; I dug out the sheet music. I had to work to be able to replicate the notes upon the staff lines; missing the flats on occasion. And though my fingers were stiff I willed myself to relax; the finger motor placement memory returning . It is only once a year that the desire to play this music arises.
The wiring of our brain is such a wonderful, miraculous thing.
My eyes were unfocused; only glancing at the music as needed. The memories of Christmases past flooded through me reminding me of my purpose once again.
The repetitiveness of life has a way of beating us down; obliterating our vision; our mission. I hadn’t realized I had turned the volume of my car stereo down; my Christmas CD silently repeating in my vehicle. I had effectively muted my life; silently miming my existence.
I heard the alto sax’s rendition of Sleigh Ride and the trumpet’s harmony in a Christmas medley. I began to jazz up the White Christmas piece on the piano; syncopating my rhythm as the boys and I took turns. The youngest joined in; humming along.
I became present once again.
It is eerie how quickly that switch can flip. I had just been writing about being present in my life as time quickly passes. I am reminded that I must not let my mind be idle; that life takes effort in all areas. As a wife. As a mother. As a Catholic. As a member of society. As a friend. That I am continually a work in progress and that there are many plateaus. Complacency is the vice I must continually be watchful for.
Moments do not create themselves. We must always be present; watchful for their coming. To recognize their value; their purpose.
The music has given me a renewed sense of purpose. I found myself happily shopping. But this year it is different. I am not shopping just to buy. I have a purpose in mind. When the boys suggested a gift card for the teen boy I chose from our church’s “Angel Tree” I happily complied. It was satisfying to hand the card over to the parish office; to be donated to a teen similar in age to my sons. The boys were happy to choose this gift for someone else. Its monetary worth did not matter.
My boys, who are accustomed to receiving, have not learned to give. To really give; from their hearts.
There are many people who wish to donate and give time during the holidays. But what about the every day? How do you instill this value of giving, just because and to expect nothing in return? It has been this question that has kept me in the doldrums, this holiday.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~John 3:16 NIV.
The giving. In November we gave thanks. In December we give it away. Life isn’t about the things we have; it is about what we can offer to others. Love. Friendship. Relationship.
I need to believe that I have something to offer; the thing I have been searching for all this time. In my twenties and thirties I thought my mission in life was in having things, creating a family, building a home. I’ve since discovered otherwise. To expect things in return breeds disappointment. Burn-out. You base your worth on things given to you. External factors should not define who you are; what I am.
There will always be the hard days where the present moments leave nothing to be desired. The youngest enjoyed his short-lived time in a wheelchair as he nursed a sprained foot. The x-rays revealed no hairline fractures or broken bones. He was adamant that he would push himself from radiology to the cast room. It was all I could do to not grab the handles and rush to our next destination.
But my schedule cleared. I had all the time in the world with no excuses. My older sons were in carpools. I willed myself to be present in the long and sterile hospital corridor. The orthopedics department was in a completely different building and finally, this son tired of the novelty of the wheelchair.
When the high school marching season ended I missed the daily busy thrum of the quads; the chromatic peals of the bells. No longer could their music carry me. I have to compose my own movements within life’s symphony. To find inspiration in the every day; boring as they may seem. I begin to see my mundane days in a different, multi-colored LED Christmas light.
- I pay the property taxes, grateful I have a home to pay for.
- I make nightly dinners, replenish empty refrigerators and empty full trash cans; physical proof that a family of five gathers together and lives here.
- I drive loops around my community; happy to have places to go and people to see.
- I mentally push myself out of my comfort zone to explore business learning opportunities.
- I belong to a family; the only child with deceased parents. It is my very own.
The words. They finally come. My fingers fly, once again, across my keyboard; fighting their way onto the page no longer unwritten. I can finally recognize them, taste them on my tongue and DO something with them.
I turn the volume up to my favorite Christmas song by Mariah Carey on the car stereo; singing loud and clear. I’ve found my rhythm once again.