Thursday, March 29, 2007

How do you want to spend your time?


Here's a Naomi Shihab Nye Poem, courtesy of my pal Garrison. (Where would prayer and reflection be without a daily Writer's Almanac?)

She's asking a big old rocket science question that each and every one of us gets to wrestle with on this planet:

How do I want to spend my time?
What's it worth? What are my options? What are my choices? What are the essential outcomes I'd like to see from today, or my week, or this month- or shoot: my entire earthly existence?

I often get caught up on the little moments, like, "What do I want to do this next 5 minutest?"

Thus far today: I've cleaned Sarah, Aaron, Naomi and Elliot's house. Had a couple tacos. Talked to my sister. Now what?

These are not earth shattering decisions, but ones I think all sort of add up and then have the potential to overwhelm us. Or maybe just me.

I love Naomi's attitude though here. As I feel like I've similarly gotten kind of snappy and particular about my time.

"You'd like to take me to a movie? Or out for martinis and sushi?"
"That's quite delightful. But I'm wondering, 'Why?'"
"Happy hour this week?"
"Coffee on Thursday?"
"A walk by the River?"

Here's a really recent one:
"A job teaching Shakespeare to the private school privileged babes? Oh?! And it pays $500 for the day?"

In each case, I am confessing, I've posed this response loudly and clearly to the dear extending the invitation:

It's not out of a sense of anger, disgust, desire to be rude, any moral outrage or need to put a person off because I'm annoyed.
No. For me, it's just literally gotten very very clear what I want at this juncture in my life:
A boy, a baby and a book.
The three b's. (This particular naming just surfaced with my lovely friends Joy and Sharifa Tuesday night.) One month ago, the notion appeared in this kind of language:
"I'm putting all of my creative energy toward cultivating a partnership, working to have a child or two, and writing. Anything else, must take a back seat. The creation and sustaining of an organization devoted to art literacy and leadership? Fabulous. But: Backseat. The mentoring and facilitation of emerging teaching artists and collaborative work with teachers? Backseat. Unless it immediately contributes to one of these possibilities (boy, baby, writing a book) manifesting in a timely manner. It's a no go."

Sure, then there are those practical details showing up in practical questions, like,
"Umm, Meliss, how you going to pay the bills?"

Excellent question!
Answer: "God will show me."

Ack! The thing is: I really believe that. Let me tell you, when this "Three B" discernment first surfaced just a month ago, within 24 hours this job offer walked in the door to start cleaning houses. It pays $20 hour. I get to sort and tidy and scour and create clear and comfortable space for a family. Help them live in a way that makes life a bit easier. And then leave: and write. Or go out on a date.
Today, I actually get to do all three of those things. !*$@*$%#$@&!
And there's honor in that. Beauty, in fact.

I'm rambling. I'm sharing. I'm just doing my thing, revealing my daily thoughts and questions and a few details. Somewhere in all of this, I hope there is something you might find chewy or comedic or even inspiring. Read Ms. Nye's poem below.

She says all this really swell like and succinctly.

Peace, Love,
Happy discerning,

Poem: "The Art of Disappearing" by Naomi Shihab Nye from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. © The Eighth Mountain Press. Reprinted with permission.

The Art of Disappearing

When they say Don't I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
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Queen Mab Contemplates :

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