Saturday, June 26, 2010

Frenetic Calm


I approached the Giant food store, recycled bags in hand, free as a lark with no larklings. As I approached, heading towards the front door, something struck my eye that was fascinating. A woman.. girl... lady? An ageless female, who had clearly and very recently purchased quite a large number of items at said store, was outside with her cart of groceries. And oodles of plastic Giant bags.

Someone had forgotten her recycled bags.

She was pacing. Literally pacing. Hands in her pockets. Back and forth, forth and back, back and forth again, from her own made-up starting line to her turnabout spot, back to the starting line, and repeat. As I approached, I was struck at this shark-like behavior.

For what was she pacing? Was she nervous? Bored? Scared? Were her feet asleep, was she was trying to re-engage them in the world around them? I got so taken in by this steady, pragmatic foot-falling, I completely lost track of myself and wandered into the store, bypassing the carts.

I went back outside. I needed a cart, duh. But the shark, clad in her yellow v-neck and large, dark sunglasses, was impeding the way. I arced widely around her, as I noticed others did.

Other people, strangers to this strange dance, were avoiding her. Her shark infested waters.

How delightfully bizarre! I couldn't get over this conundrum.. people needed carts. She was impeding access to carts simply by pacing back and forth in front of them. I love the study of human behavior. I silently cursed myself for not taking more sociology courses in college, and got a cart. Finally.

Once the cart was gotten, I then needed to go through her pacing path to gain access to the Giant store. I had a twinge of guilt, then sudden excitement as to what her counter-move would be.

She paused in the pacing. Stepped back, tilted her chin slightly down. I, and another lady who didn't share my curiosity, curtly walked past.

I went inside and immediately looked for a window, to gaze out into this other seemingly tormented soul. Or, at least the soles of her shoes.

For my good fortune, and for everyone who later had to deal with me on this important day of my eldest son's 3rd birthday party, there was a Starbucks inside this store. And it was just inside the store, affording me the opportunity to check out the Mystery Pacer's next move.

She was still pacing!! What--in the world, could she be so anxious about? And who was she waiting for? And where were her recycled bags??

Then, I kid you not, what happened next was the most unexpected turn. As I pulled over to a Starbucks table, grappling for my pen/paper to make some blog post notes, as we all know I did, I glanced up.

She turned her head and met my gaze.

I was flabbergasted. The pacer knew her pacing was being tracked. I had the sudden urge to race outside and join in her pacing, up and down, back and forth, just for the pure and simple freedom of it. Freedom Pacers. And also, mostly, to find out why the hell she was pacing.

It was so deliberate. So unnatural. So .. creepily calculated. Every step was purposeful.

And only she, Yellow-Shirted Mystery Pacer, held the key to unlock those steps.

If my toddler had been with me, he would have fallen into step alongside her, looked up, and instantly unlocked the mystery. As he, as a general rule, holds all those keys.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Painting a Revelation

I know there are so many blogs to read and so little time. But I had such a revelatory moment today that I had to share.

Six or seven years ago, I was in an elevator. I was in a high-flootin' finance job, up to the 8th floor in a somewhat respectable high-rise building, in the somewhat-respectable field of corporate&investment banking. I was probably dressed in a blue button down and gray pants. It was the uniform.

The elevator was packed, and, as was customary on a busy morning, stopped at nearly every floor on the way up. Two people were talking behind me, a man and a woman. They were talking about painting. I got excited and nearly turned around.. painting? Was there a budding Van Gogh behind me? What did she paint? When did she paint? Was she in an artist's body, or did she just hide this side of herself? How cool was that? What kind of medium, I wanted to ask.

"Yes, we've finally finished the guest room. Now I have to get the kitchen and dining rooms done... arrgh, it just takes forever to paint a house."

Oh. (sigh)

Fast forward to today. I am walking back to my car after picking up some delicious Lebanese food - with a 7mo-old infant and 2-3/4 yr old in tow. Yes, my toddler ate it too. There were two women, dressed in casual yoga gear, chatting just behind my car, blocking our entry back into the car. I said "excuse me" as I inadvertently heard most of the end of their conversation. One woman was cajoling the other, saying,
"You need to get back into that!"
"Oh, the painting? I am! I started a few weeks ago. Ah, it feels so good." I happened to know that they were talking about art.

Painting, for the beauty of it. For the pure joy, the unfettered feeling of creating something beautiful with every stroke of the brush, of pausing, reflecting.. clearing the mind. Making art.

A beautiful thing. **

** For the record, I do not paint. I'd rather create beauty through words. Plus, my brother got that talent in the family.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Time. A New Frontier.

I know. Seriously. What could I possibly write about time that is new, different, innovative, obscure? We'll see. Keep in mind, there's no guarantee in the blogosphere.

But here's what struck me: In no other time in life than after having children, does time forever change. It speeds up, it slows down, it pauses and waits for you at times... other times leaves you on the side of the road with the car door open, speeding away. Taillights in the dust.

When I was charging through my 20s, time was just time.. it kind of ticked away. I looked forward to things, I looked back fondly on things, and everything seemed appropriately spaced. I'd say things like, "in a few months, we're going to the beach." Or, "in a few months, I think I have a doctor's appointment." "In a few months, I think my parents are coming to visit."

"I think", because who cares? It was a few months away!

Now a lifetime is contained in a single, solitary, well-chosen moment. In a moment where my almost-3-year old bends down to help his baby brother pick something off the floor, then hands it back to him, sealing my faith that he does listen. If a single moment can contain such magnitude, imagine a whole day?! A week? A month?

And whereas a few months previously might mean a different number of miles on the car, or temperature outside, or a different vacation destination, now it's the difference between my baby squirming helplessly on the floor and being able to give me high five.

That's right. Baby A gave me high five yesterday, for the first time ever. (For those who've lost track--and trust me, I get it - he's 7 mos old tomorrow.)

And what got me - really got me, about him doing it, is that I was just kidding! Time has done a number on me, too, and I forget how fast they change. I was joking! I sat him up, grinning from ear-to-ear just to be alive, and held up my hand and said in a voice excited enough to wake Sleeping Beauty, "GIMME FIVE!"

He looked at my hand. He looked at me. He raised his little hand and met mine. Ka-Ching!!

You could hear our collective giggles four miles away.

This is the thing. A few months isn't what it used to be. It's so much more...time. It's so much more documented. It's so much more change. It's the change of change, the derivative of life itself. Interestingly enough, when you derive a life equation, you get a more concentrated life.

And time is the remainder.




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