A confession: as we approach the New Year, I’ve had zero patience with incompletions:
The book I’ve been rewriting, still not finished
The room I’m painting, needing another coat of paint, and artwork to be hung
Ideal weight, still not reached; in fact, it’s going in the wrong direction
Watch misplaced five days ago, still not found.
Email and Internet access down
I had all December off from traveling and teaching to finish what I wanted to do, and I felt positive about getting everything done, but then my editor took a break from working on my manuscript so I waited for him to finish. And the computer guy I scheduled to get me online again took his time (a week!) getting here to diagnose the problem, and then another two days to get me online again, so I waited and waited for him, all the while getting angrier and angrier (people count the faults of those who keep them waiting). Students and clients were expecting emails from me. I didn’t mail holiday cards or presents. The season slipped through my fingers—or, more accurately, slipped through my brain.
And every time I tried to look at my watch to see how far behind I was, it wasn’t on my wrist (see item #4 above). I looked for it in all my pockets, on my desk, under the bathmats, beside the bed, and on the counters and sinks. No watch.
I wanted desperately to stay centered and put a philosophical spin on everything. I feel so good and happy and healthy when I’m wise. Instead, I felt furious and depressed.
Sometimes I’m wiser than I act.
Wrong time to cut back on coffee. Blood pressure at last reading: 90/41.
Last night, a dream: I found a canary trapped inside the house (maybe inspired by the disturbing fact that birds sometimes get into the Wal-Mart Supercenter through the open door of the garden department and fly throughout the store until …. Until what? They die? They find their way out again?). Anyway, in my dream, the small bird was exhausted. I took it in my hands, carried it outside, and tossed it gently into the air. It flew a short ways and then dropped to the ground. Was it okay? Did it survive? I don’t know. I woke up.
I was too depressed to analyze my dream: did the bird symbolize my spirit, my creativity, or simply trapped birds inside a store? I didn’t want to think about it.
Good things did happen, though. I was treated to a night in a hotel overlooking the runway at the DFW airport so I could watch planes taking off, and be thrilled that I didn’t have to go anywhere. I also attended three dinner parties, met new people, and enjoyed delicious food (see item # 3 above). But behind it all, like a slow pulse, the worry: I’m not getting it all done. I wanted to finish everything, to wind up all the loose ends from the old year so I could feel great about heading into the New Year. How could I start fresh from the beginning when I was dragging all this incompletion behind me like something disagreeable I stepped in?
In the middle of the night, relentless self-talk: everyone else seems to be enjoying the season and getting things done; they sent holiday cards and put up decorations and probably got bonuses at work (if I had an insubordinate, disgruntled employee like myself this season, I’d probably “downsize” her).
Just don’t ask me what time it is, I can’t find my watch! Item #4.
I’ve got it bad. I’m attached to completion and achievement. I’m SUPPOSED to have “it” finished—“it” being everything that’s unfinished—and THEN I can feel good. The second the New Year begins, I can start fresh. I can be patient for only so long, and then it’s time for “it” to be done, “it” SHOULD be done, “it” MUST be done!
Okay, settle down. Take a deep breath. Remember what you know.
Nothing in Life stands still. Even rocks have life cycles. Our bodies and our thoughts are part of nature with beginnings and middles and endings and more beginnings. And yet, I expected Life to respect, and abide by, my artificial constructs of time. I expected Life to go, “Oh, yeah, you’re right, a new year is starting, let me wave a magic wand and presto, everything undone in the previous year is now completed and you’re ready for a fresh start.”
There’s a natural order of things, an order we might not always realize. It’s part of the Great Mystery.
I searched for a book that I have around here somewhere, The Power of Now, and couldn’t find it. It’s with my watch, I suppose, so I looked up the following quote from the book on the Internet: “Authentic human power is found by surrendering to the Now … the present moment, where problems do not exist. It is here we find our joy and are able to embrace our true selves. It is here we discover that we are already complete and perfect.”
Desire, attachments, and judgments pull me in all directions. And so I step back from my mercurial moods, reminding myself to not mistake the part—any one mood or feeling—for the whole of what I am, and I reconnect with something deeper and more stable within myself. The world is not the problem. The way I sometimes see it is the problem.
And so I come back to what I know. Things get done when they get done. Wanting it otherwise is unrealistic and problematic. Maybe now—the present moment—is what really matters.
So I released ever finding my watch, which had the words “Watch it” printed on its face.
Maybe objects have their own destinies independent of our destinies.
As I shopped for a new watch, I was drawn to one unlike any others I’ve had, which were one color: gold. This one has a silver and white-gold bracelet band, a sea-green face outlined in black, a diamond chip at 12 o’clock, and a word written in gold on it—the word “Now.”
Ask me what time it is.
“What time is it?”