A proverb that can be traced back to 1772, it essentially advises that the less we waste, the less we'll need/want in the future. I'm sure this is intended to caution against careless use of money, food, and resources. I'd like to also suggest it cautions against waste of time and personal energy. The more we waste today, the less likely our dreams and ambitions will see the light of day.
My friend, Maureen was around 40 when she confided two things: (1) she really wanted to go back to school, now that the kids were grown and her husband had earned his Master's Degree and in a career he loved, but she was too old to start over and it would take too long, and (2) she and her husband were watching every penny, not taking vacations or splurging on themselves in the least, because once he retired, they were going to travel. First stop: Hawaii.
My response to #1 is that every day was going to pass, whether she spent them going to college or dusting her living room; it was still going to be the same 365 days a year and how she spent them would either enhance her life or diminish her spirt. To #2, I encouraged her to live today with zest (you know, like the song: Live Like You Were Dying"), even if they were saving for tomorrow's adventures. Do some small things NOW.
Well, you can probably guess the ending of this story: she shuffled from day to day, watching her husband and kids enjoy their lives and she never returned to school. And two years before her husband's early retirement, she got cancer, had a stroke and died.
Waste Not. Want Not. Our currency is not just money; it's time and energy; it's dreams achieved and goals accomplished. Or not. When emerging writers tell me they want to write but can't find the time, I answer: a page a day; those days are going to pass whether you write that page or not. But if you do, in one year, you'll have that book.
When we choose to embrace our lives, we don't waste our days or our years and we don't waste our dreams. Live is too short to sit on the couch and wish things were better, different, more joyful. Every day counts.
A few years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, I was missing my mother (who'd died a few years before then) and the phone rang, a stranger at the other end saying, "This is your mother. Do you need any help?" Not a simple, "hi" or "how are you?" but, "this is your mother." She was calling her daughter and dialed wrong. Or did she. Was it my mother, coming through this kind stranger. Flash forward: what are the chances that my father, who's been gone for 16 years, would call just a few days later?!?!? One in a million, maybe. But it happened.
I rarely keep my cell phone on. I don't text and I only use my pay-as-you-go phone for when I'm on the road. It was still on from the night before, when I'd done a book signing, tucked inside my purse, when it rang. I flipped it open without putting on my glasses to see who it was. The man on the other end said, "You sound better today." My immediate response was, "Who is this?" to which the man replied, "This is your father. You sound better."
How could that be? Yet, there it was. Two strangers, days apart, identifying themselves as my parents. Makes you wonder. Makes you believe. Right after my father died, I wrote a short essay, published in the Op-Ed section of The Hartford Courant, the premier daily newspaper in Connecticut. I talked about my father's passing, about the fact that I just wanted to know where he was, how he was doing. Was he strolling along a place called Karmic Boulevard? I asked for a phone call in that piece, wanting him to call and let me know he was okay.
I guess he finally did. Thanks, Dad. - ps
I just finished reading Sara's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, a novel set during the Holocaust, a book that feels as real as the true story of Anne Frank. It depicts honestly a dark time in French history, showing us 1942 Paris in which thousands of Jewish families were rounded up, arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, and then transported to Auschwitz. You know the rest.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who had no idea of what occurred in Paris, so swept under the rug was this time of unspeakable acts. The author does a remarkable job of pulling us into the events of the time by giving us Sara, a young girl with a secret and a key, a young girl burdened by guilt and yet compelled by hope and responsibility to go on despite everything. And while I had some problems with the structure of this novel and the storytelling techniques, I find myself haunted by the experience of having read it.
What I want to know . . .what I need to know . . .how could it have happened? Is there unseen destiny at play? Do we have free will? Can we use the metaphor of Sara's key to unlock our own history, to open doors often locked by prejudice and misunderstanding and find ways to forgive and to embrace one another. I don't have the answer. But I do have hope. — ps
There are times when everything in our life seems to fall into place: we're healthy, everybody we love is healthy; work and money are flowing and there's enough of the good stuff to make us feel content, if not downright happy. Enjoy those moments. They're small windows of opportunity, those seconds of perfection. When I'm in that place and someone happens to ask how I am my answer is something like, "Right now, everything is wonderful. And I'm loving it, not taking one second for granted." I say right now because it all shifts. Like that moving river, nothing stays the same, nothing stays in place. And that's okay. We just need to learn to shift with it.
Over the past couple of months I've been dealing with a series of seemingly random health problems that feel related to me, but nobody is able to connect the dots. And then, if that wasn't enough, a window shade (I was raising to let in light) bolted out of its bracket and slammed into my eye, resulting in some deep corneal abrasions that need to be "babied" for a year in order to prevent re-injury. One sister is still looking for the right job; the other sister is buying a beautiful vacation home. Yin and Yang. Balance and Imbalance. And then a small gift from the universe.
I came across this wonderful, totally unexpected, and noticed increased sales. A small thing, maybe, but it felt like the my world was moving into the center again. I'm working on the health issues, minor by comparison to others, but still mine. There's a line in a novel (and can't remember the name. Can anyone out there help me??) -- it was about the Second World War and a family's adjustments to tragedy -- the line goes something like this, "the cut on your finger doesn't hurt any less because someone else lost his leg." I had to think about that for a while, but it's true: our hurts are still our hurts even if someone else's loss is greater.
So that's it for today. Time to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm about to hit Connecticut in a couple of days. Be safe. Be well. Enjoy your windows of opportunity.
Welcome to Pat's Place
This is the kind of place I'm lucky enough to enjoy every day, a place to think and write and talk with friends. I hope you'll join me here often, posting on my posts, letting me know what you think, what you believe, what makes you laugh or smile or cry. What makes you angry. Let's share thoughts, rant at the world's randomness, explore issues like karma, destiny and past lives, and literary ones, like what we're reading and how in the world writers create conflict in fiction. It's all up for grabs. So, what's on your mind? Post comments.
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