Mexicans have a saying. It’s a pat response to certain situations; especially those they can do little or nothing about. In these scenarios, they simply shrug their shoulders and say, “manana.”
That means “tomorrow”. It’s rather comforting to know that there are times when you can put off doing something until later, mainly because you have the luxury of time. You know for a fact that tomorrow will come.
Or so you think.
So many people put off doing things that bring them real joy. Why? Because those things which make us smile are often deemed expendable. We are firmly entrenched in the belief that responsibility and duty come first. And it could be because their list of “joy infusers” is too long; too complicated. Perhaps they don’t have it “penciled” in on their Blackberry’s or maybe they’re just too damn rigid to depart from their regular routines.
In a way, I completely get that. Change is scary.
The other day I watched Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio cavort and canoodle from steerage up through the A-Deck on “Titanic”. Some movie, huh? Director, James Cameron should be proud: the dialog was bad enough to have single-handedly sunk the Lusitania with one badly scribed, poorly placed adverbial phrase, but the special effects were king.
King, I tells ya!!
Anyway, that got me thinking about the Titanic and how on April 15th, 1912, a total of 15-hundred, 520 people woke up to die that day. What were their thoughts as the ship sank around them?
“Oh shit!”, comes to mind first and foremost
But seriously, I’m like many women in that I’ve had my share of weight issues at various times in my life. I’ve spent part of that time saying, “Screw it!! Gimme another piece of cake!” At other times, I’d go without. I’d completely deny myself. That was difficult to do at times; easier at others.
How so? Well, it was difficult by virtue of the mere temptation of the cake itself. I mean we ARE talking about “ a delicious, rich, soul replenishing food stuff that can emotionally assuage those nasty, ugly feelings of pain and rejection ” that is chocolate cake.
And it was easy visa vie visual reinforcement. By that I mean those occasions when the expanse you call your ass has served as this unyielding Post-It Note reminder that you just can’t remove. Here’s how it’s worked in Laurie Land: my eye would catch my reflection in a mirror or a store window. There is NOTHING like coming to terms with the fact that yes, your ass jiggles to the seismic extent that the U.S Geological Survey can detect it’s tectonic movement from 15-hundred miles away.
Back to the Titanic.
I had to wonder if those women on board that mega ship, or those who died on September 11th, lived as I did. Did they pass up dessert or bread or mashed potatoes at dinner the night before?
And there are other forms of sustenance. The kind that can only feed the mind and emotions.
I’ve listened to Harry Chapin’s song, “Cat’s Cradle” more times than I can count. And many times I felt as thought I knew the little boy who wanted to play catch with his busy, harried father. The lyrics are something to the effect of Dad telling him, “No son, I can’t play right now. I must get back to work in order to make a living in order to keep you in Wilson footballs!”. And then Junior did the only thing he knew how to do: he excused his father-yet again-for the transgression of providing for his family. Sonny then says, “That’s OK. Someday, I’m going to grow up to be just like my dad!”
Well, lo and behold; irony of ironies, he does just that. Ten years go by in the literal blink of an eye and suddenly, Dad wakes up in what Bobby Goldsboro warbled, “the autumn of his life” and he realizes he not only currently misses his son, hut he always has. The boy grew up to be a man he doesn’t even know. But something about his son is familiar; he is reflective of the man that the Dad once was. You see, the boy did in fact grow up to be just like his dad. The roles have reversed and now the older, idle Dad with work and life behind him, wants to spend time with a son that’s too busy to do so.
We reap what we sow.
And what about your Harry Chapin moments? When your child needs to talk to you , do you tell him or her to hold on; to wait a minute because you’re either “watching your stories”, OR…Howie Freakin’ Mandel is on fire right now on “Deal Or No Deal”? And then, the moment slips by. Once it does, you can never get it back. It’s gone; into the ether….forever.
That makes me wonder about the evening of Monday, September 10, 2001. As almost three thousand people said goodnight to those their family members and friends, did they on that their last night on Earth, say “I love you?” as well?
What if an innocent goodbye becomes the last one. What if there’s finality without a goodbye?
I cannot count the number of times I’d call my best friend and ask, “Wanna meet for lunch or maybe get a drink later?” There were days when he wasn’t feeling well enough (he was sicker than I realized) and he’d hem and haw and stammer and stutter and say, “I can’t. I’m broke” or he’d say, “But I haven’t even showered yet today!”
And really, I was no better. I gave him my share of excuses when he’d call me.
We’d tell each other, we’d meet up later. Why not, we always had tomorrow, right?
The last time I had this mindset was the last time Walter and I spoke. That was mid-June, 2007.
He died two weeks later.
I’ve missed him everyday since.
I once read that “because we Americans cram so much into our lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises to make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect”.
We place conditions on everything:
- Once I get rid of my clients and workload, we’ll take that family vacation
- I’ll tell her that I love her the next time I see her
- Let’s not jump the gun in our relationship. Nature must take it’s course and there’s certainly plenty time for that
- We’ll have that big family reunion at our house once the living room is remodeled. Gee, I can’t wait to see Great Aunt Hattie again! She’s so spry for 86!
- When Charlotte graduates from High School, the hubby and I can finally take that second honeymoon we’ve been talking about
My good friend, the late, great Houston broadcaster, Chuck Shramek, died of cancer in May of 2000. In the weeks before his death, he said on the air that he was blown away by they way life accelerates at a completely uncontrollable rate as we get older. He called it, “The Quickening”.
That always sounded like a Michael Crichton novel to me.
But alas, it isn’t a book. The Quickening is real, though unproven clinically speaking, but I can tell you that after turning 45, I noticed its stark reality came out of nowhere and ambushed my ass.
Here I am, lo these many years later and did I learn anything from Chuck? Did I take any of his realization to heart?? No, not really. I sorely lack in the follow through department.
But I do have a bucket list of sorts, I call mine the, “‘Someday, I’m Going to…’ A Compendium of Things That Sound Great and That I Fully Intend To Do But In All Reality, Will Probably NEVER Get Around To Doing Any Of Them” list. What am I doing about this list? Nothing, but that’s going to change. while my vacation to Malta might have to be put on hold for a while, I’m not longer going to deny myself the simplest joys, my life’s simplest pleasures.
Things are going to change. I’m going to stop giving more than I get, especially in personal relationships. It never fails; somebody always loves a little more; someone always gives more than they get and sadly, that always results in the Giver feeling unappreciated, spent and taken for granted. Usually, I’m the one who ends up heaped in a puddle of unfulfilled hopes and dreams while holding a tear stained bag that once held so many prized emotions. What a lonely place to be. But that’s going to change as well.
Wow. just typing that out made me feel better and it’s about time, too. I really haven’t had a compelling “seize the moment” moment in a long time and I miss those. I miss the Laurie that used to crave spontaneity. I used to be damn good at “off the cuff”. I had a great time. My life has been a piece of work that’s been honed by happiness and misery; life-altering mistakes and life-affirming successes. I know I can’t do at 49 what I did at 25, but even so, I miss my old allowances and I want to reincorporate a few into my life. I used to listen to music a lot. At home, in my car and I used to sing too. I stopped doing those things for some reason.
I’ve stopped doing a lot of things. My lips have not allowed my taste buds to savor the joy of a greasy, cheesy pizza in such a long time. I love pizza. I love the cosmic combo that is pizza and ice cold beer, but none for Laurie. She’ll have a heapin’ helpin’ of denial, thank you.
Well today, all of that changes. Why deny myself any futher? I’ve been too afraid to stand up for myself to say ” I want that” or “I deserve that!”. I’ve been too afraid to be alone; too afraid to gain weight; too afraid to be afraid and frankly, I’m bored by it all. It’s not working; besides, I ain’t dead yet!!
Time for a change and begins here and now and with me. First item: I’m going to start telling more people that I love them and I will mean it. Furthermore, I don’t care if they respond in kind.
I’m going to make more of an effort to be a friend, to myself and to those people who’ve diligently and devotedly played on “Team Laurie” all of these years. I’ve had an enviable support staff. I’m going to improve my day by improving someone else’s.
I’m going to infuse more laughter in my life and in the lives of everyone within my realm. Laughter. My God, it’s so healthy. It rejuvenates the soul. I’m going to stop and take a minute to look up at the sky and let the warmth of the sun imprint my very being.
I’m going to drive with my car window down and I’ll feel the wind on my face.
I’m going to watch the sunset and marvel at Nature’s brilliant use of God’s Technicolor.
I’m going to drink in life with a ladle of my own making.
And tonight, when my day is done, l’ll lie down and I will not think about what I didn’t do today…or what I need to do tomorrow.
No, not tonight.
Tonight, I’ll think about how good that pizza was and how cold that beer tasted.
You see, things are going to change.
I’m going to start playing my car radio again and this time, I’ll turn up the volume. It’ll be loud and I’ll drive around the block a few times if my favorite song is on because I’ll be determined to listen to the whole thing–even if I’m running late for something.
Life is incredibly short.
I want to hear the music before the song is over.