Monday, August 14, 2017

Loud Drumbeats

The drumbeats of war are loud this week.

North Korea.
Venezuela.
Charlottesville, Virginia.

Voices raised in anger and scorn, fear and hate.

I hear them, and their anger is strong and their fear is contagious. I must hunker down, gather and protect my own, and find a place where we will be safe.

But there is no safe place - and I start to panic.

Then, reason returns.

I remember again, the only constant is change. Our days are not guaranteed. The only thing I can control is my reaction to what happens in my world. (Thank you, Viktor Frankl.)

I was reading Ken Follett's Edge of Eternity these past few weeks. I've read historical fiction before - this is the first time I've been old enough, and the period covered recent enough, for me to parallel the events in the book with my life.

I was born the year the Berlin Wall went up. I toddled my way through the tumultuous civil right's movement of the early 60's. The Kennedys were shot; the trajectory of our country changed - and I was learning to read. It struck home in a way it never has before - even in time of war, there are pockets of peace.

I can't control what's happening in the world around me. Heck, I count it a good day if I manage to keep the cats off the counter while I fix dinner.

But I can control my fear and decide not to panic.

Hate is loud, but Love whispers anyways.

It doesn't seem possible Love could ever win, even for a moment, but it does.
Anyways.

I can listen for Love's whispers, add my voice to the quiet, steady chorus when I can, because I can. Anyways.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Changing Rhythms

I'm one of those people who prefers my life to have a steady rhythm.

On this beat, I sleep.
On this beat, I rise.
On this day, I work.
On this day, I play.

These are the people who share the rhythm of my life.

But, wait.

The rhythm has changed.

My baby bird has left the nest again, and I'm learning again how the rhythms of my life sound when I live alone.

The beat changes when I am left to my own devices. The fridge is emptier, the house tidier. I am learning again to be content to come home to the quiet. Learning again to listen to the sound of my heartbeat when there is no counter-rhythm in the house to balance it out.

I go to bed when I am tired, no longer do I wait to make sure everyone is safely home and settled - for I am home, and I am safe and there is no one else to worry about.

I delay getting up in the morning until the last minute. Oh, wait. That rhythm hasn't changed a bit - I've been having to have serious conversations with me to get my rear in gear in the morning since he left home the first time some years ago.

Last weekend was cool, rainy. I spent most of Saturday and all of Sunday by myself. I procrastinated some, napped some, worked some. I marveled to myself at the spectacle of the rain.

Being alone is daunting. A bit scary, a bit freeing.
I'm finding again my own pace.
It takes practice.

I'm out of practice.

This adjustment is not easy. But there is beauty there when I remember to look.

And, I don't have to share the ice cream.
There is that.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MIddle Age

In 2006, I was still driving my red 1997 Taurus. It had been a great car - invisible, reliable. It was a top-seller for its year; I once pulled into a parking lot, and added my car to a line of five identical red Taurus's. It was the perfect car for a busy mom, able to buckle six people in a pinch, comfortable on the road, plenty of room in the back seat for restless children.

But in January of 2006, it was starting to show its age, and I was restless; looking forward to Joe's graduation later that spring, ready to spread my own wings a little. I'd always wanted a convertible, and while I was diligently doing my research, I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I really wanted a Mustang. Back in the seventies, when I was learning to drive the full-sized Chevrolet van, Mustangs were 'the' car. As I researched and mulled it over, I finally decided that if I bought any other model, I'd still be wondering if I should have bought a Mustang.

Rumor had it Ford had made great strides in the handling of the car on snow and ice, so I moseyed on over to the local dealer one sleety day, and asked if I could test-drive one to see. They reluctantly let me out on the road, after first copying both my driver's license and insurance card, and then spending an inordinate amount of time cautioning me to drive carefully.

I gingerly got behind the wheel, turned into traffic, and instantly fell in love.

Now, I wasn't ready to buy a car just yet; I wanted to wait until I got my tax refund in March, but they had this car on the lot. It had been traded back in with just 3500 miles on it, and they were willing to dicker. I went home to sleep on it, but I knew before I left that I'd be figuring out a way to rob tuition funds to bridge the time until my taxes were done so I'd have money for the down payment.

Sure enough. Three days later I owned my dream car.

Far from invisible, the Mustang is a cop magnet. The bright yellow body can be seen for miles on the freeway, and draws the attention of every cop it passes. It's been good for me - I'm now among the most law-abiding drivers on the road. I have to be - I didn't have to get pulled over more than once to learn that lesson. (He gave me a warning...)

It's been a wonderful car. Mechanically sound, it's needed almost NO work thus far.

Then, last week as I was walking by it in the garage, I picked at a spot of dirt on the rooftop.  Nope, it wasn't dirt, it was a vinyl bubble. A close inspection revealed worn spots pocking the entire top. It looks like a well-worn pair of jeans. You know the type - you carefully choose where you're going to wear them because you know, one day soon, you're going to sit down, then stand up with a new air vent displaying your fine underthings for all the world to see.

I'm not complaining, I figure after eleven years, it's due for something to give way. But it's a little sad to know the car has caught up to me in middle age.

We're not exempt from damage from the elements we're driving through each day. Our paint is dinged, and our bodies have been in the shop a time or two. But the joy of being able to put the top down and look up to see the sky hasn't paled a bit during our time together.

All good things must come to an end - but not yet. I have an appointment in two weeks to get a new top installed. (In the meantime, I'll forego lowering the roof - no need to help those rips along their inevitable paths.)

We've got some miles left in us, me and the Stealth-mobile.