I sat down and channeled Matthew McConaughey. “Alright, alright, alright.” Flipped my computer open. Went to YouTube and typed “dolphin and whales singing.” Then I chose the two hour playlist. I was ready to grade final papers.
Once I get on a roll, I’m golden. And I was on a roll this morning. I was in the analytical zone. Read, attach grade, attach final course grade. Next?
I hit my stride, with the occasional desktop notification letting me know I had a student email. Check. Answer. Success!
Today, I was on task and made significant dents in my (growing) end of semester task list.
But around 6:00 this evening, I got tired. My eyes started to sting and my focus was shot. Snickers rested her chin on my knees and looked at me as if she was thinking “mommy are you done yet?”
I was. For the night.
I sat down and watched television with my husband for an hour. Guilt free. That doesn’t come easy. I can’t begin to think of the days, nights, and weekends that I’ve felt guilty for not working harder, pushing through more, getting more in, because it was there. I’m a work horse. If you put a task in front of me, I will do it. I don’t stop.
But I’m learning, slowly, how to pause.
Because Ferris Bueller had it right all along. Life does move pretty fast.
So I’m resting. And this might seem really mundane, but it’s not.
I’m saying yes to something.
I went for a walk, watched the sun fade, saw the moon come out of hiding, watched the dogs play in the backyard, and listened to crickets.
Soon, I’ll grab a cup of hot lavender tea and a book. I plan to ignore the laundry and just Be Me.
As a teenager, I distinctly remember telling my mom that I was going to live in New York or Chicago. I wanted to write for a magazine or newspaper.
We were in front of a small yellow storefront in my hometown. At the time, it was a secondhand bookshop.
“I want to write for The New York Times or maybe O Magazine!”
My mom encouraged me, telling me if I wanted to be a writer, I could. I could do whatever I wanted. She said she had all the confidence in the world in me.
We picked up our walk and carried on.
In time, I changed my mind.
I really like old storefronts. I like downtowns that bustle with people I know. I like hearing crickets and watching the dogs run in the backyard. I like being close to my family and the family I share with my husband.
I need to pause more often.
These are the things that make me the person I am.
We are shaped by our dreams, choices, and ambitions. Mine didn’t lead me to New York or Chicago (minus a weekend trip once or twice). I wasn’t supposed to live there.
I am supposed to be here, celebrating a day during which I graded final papers while listening to dolphins and whales sing their melodies.
And at night, I hear frogs and crickets.
My surrounding choir seamlessly transitions from one to another.
Shortly after that stop in front of the yellow storefront, the bookshop moved. Just due east to a neighboring town. It wasn’t supposed to stay where it couldn’t thrive.
But I was.
I visit the bookstore in its new location to this day.
The next time I go to my parents’ house, I’ll have to wink at that yellow storefront.
I’d have most certainly missed the crickets.
And the final papers.