Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Pause to Refect and be Thankful

This week I wrote to one of my long distance craft friends, only to find out that she died a month ago. She had been fighting Leukemia but only a week or so before she died, I had gotten a progress report from her that she seemed, once again, to be ahead of it and beating it back, or so she thought. She was a positive person and I never thought for a minute that she wouldn't beat the odds. It hit me hard that none of us are guaranteed another year, month, week or even day! I had already been sensing my own impermanence and this brought me to an abrupt stop as I sat down to write my condolences to her husband.

I had been in the middle of cleaning out my 3 x 5 note card files that I had kept before I became computer literate. They were my earlier way of storing bits of treasured knowledge, that I then filed by categories. It was one of the ways I used to keep myself organized and keep my multi-tasked brain going in all directions and not lose any important thought that out of sight, might be out of mind forever. It was more fluid, it seemed, than my old zipped day-books, that I had used to take notes in before...that literally, if lost, meant a wild search to find, for it was like losing one's mind.  I am so grateful now that computers can hold what my brain cannot, though I must confess that, being a person who kept a journal all of my life, I still like paper and pen and am still dependent on an old fashioned do-list to keep me focused and on task each day, for I can easily "get lost" simply moving from room to room.

I can see now the relationship between my anxiety about my immortality and my need to clean and organize. I feel more "in control" of my life, when "my affairs are in order" and I had to laugh at the thought that while feeling a sense of accomplishment over all that I clean or sew, this focus is so superficial and downright folly when seen in this perspective.

Indeed sitting before me on little 3 x 5 cards was documentation of a life deliberately thought out and micro-managed. It proved what I have always felt: life is challenging in the extreme. Stretcher meals and budgets, temporary jobs to fit the day and needs of our ever changing family with flexible schedules and demands--each day a contest.  Fortunately my 3 x 5 cards were not just things to do, but thoughts and goals of all kinds, from spiritual to mere dates and deadlines, and then I remembered, almost as clear as if it were yesterday, sitting in a physiology class in college and raising my hand to ask a question of my professor.  This was not unusual. In fact he could almost count on me asking a question at every lecture. Knowing me too well,  as he called on me, he said, "Miss Campen.....but before you ask your question, I would just like to say that I hope your whole education doesn't all fit in a nutshell!"... He was spot on, as my question always had to do with taking an horrendously complex subject and trying to have him summarize it and fit it into "a nutshell" to help my brain make sense of it.

Perhaps I am still working at trying to simplify a life that is too big for my head to wrap itself around and wanting it to be put into "a nutshell" or a 3 x 5 index card, where it can be easily digested, acted upon and made to fit into my comfortable little world, where I am safe and secure, and there is no death, and no problems that are unmanageable or too hard to figure out without  help. I miss my mom and dad, for they were right up there next to God Himself when it came to answers...Mmm...and how appropriate it is that I am living at a place that I now refer to as "Little House".

I hear political pundits discuss opinions regarding how this administration is or isn't dealing with the world's reality, and am comforted to know that perhaps I am not alone in having certain preconceived ideas of how the world should be as I contain my thinking to fit within walls that I have carefully constructed!...My Little House is indeed a very little house, within a very big world, that I can't fathom, much less control.

I wish my friend God's speed in moving to her next dwelling place in heaven...and love the scripture verse that has to do with God preparing a place for us in heaven, where there are many mansions and a room for each of us.

I rationalize about the smallness of my thinking after all there is nothing wrong with "doing small things with great love", as Mother Teresa said so well. We indeed occupy a tiny space in this world, but have an important part to play in the lives of those around us. I will miss my friend and the ways that her life touched me, and I will work hard to not over-think and ponder upon the great mystery of life and death.  I will accept what is and move on and simply take joy in doing what I can do today, never mind that I have too many quilts and pincushions planned and even cut out!

I may or may not get as many days as Grandma Moses to get them all done, and no matter if the directions I leave with each pre-cut quilt will be sewed by another per my directions. I can only concern myself with today and try to live it as best as I can!

I am grateful for the life that I have had, and will continue living in faith that there will be many more days to come, lest I go into overdrive to try to take even more control over what isn't mine to control. Life isn't a race, but a marathon, no matter how short or long the distance. However many days I have, I will treasure each of them, One only has to watch Teresa Caputo on Long Island Medium to know that this life is not the only one we shall have!

I am taking it on faith and promise that there is another life to come, though I will very much miss my Little House with my little studio with my carefully stored stash of materials yet to be sewed. As my dad was dying, he and my mom would joke about her writing him a check so he could take all that he had earned with him. I shall need a large van when I move to heaven and I can hear myself arguing with St. Peter about my stash needing to come with me! I have indeed been very blessed, though more by special people, like my friend that have loved and put up with me, despite my baggage! I treasure all those that have enriched my life, and are now gone from my sight, making me realize that it won't be long before I join them! Life is good, no matter its impermanence!

(This blog is dedicated to my dear friend, Marti.  You will be greatly missed!)