Right place right time....

October 24, 2007

I tend to be a down to the wire person. I hate to be early because I hate to sit around without anything to do, reading an ancient magazine when I could be home doing the millions of things that I NEED to do. So I tend to do whatever it is I am doing, until the very last moment and then careen along like a crazy woman to end up where I need to be in time. I have mentioned this tendency before I believe. It drives my poor husband quietly bats and I am always trying to overcome this problem, but it's a tough addiction to break.
Last night was our Gourmet dinner group and as you know, I'm not as comfortable as one would hope in a kitchen, which means that if a recipe says I need 30 minutes, I need an hour. I forgot about this of course, and instead of preparing my contribution to the meal, I decided to go for a run, (found the groovy secret nature preserve entrance-can't believe it is so close- wow-hey, thanks Jen Lynn! ), returning home a mere 45 minutes before I had to be walking out of the door.
In dire need of a shower, I commenced the recipe, gathered the missing ingredients from my neighbour (whom I suspect had planned for this enventuality, and just happened to have them on hand),  intending to shower while it was simmering, or boiling, or whatever it is that gets food from raw to cooked. However the recipe had several different stages and the longest simmering period was 6 minutes.
I was alone at home so there was nobody to supervise the simmering while I showered. A conundrum. I decided to shower and hope for the best (that being our house not burning down). Fortunately, I was saved as usual by Aaron who returned home early, ostensibly because Finny was whining, but I know he heard the desperation in my voice when I called him to ask him where we kept the stove. That sainted man put the finishing touches on the meal while I got un-scary.
Needless to say, by the time my recipe was done and I was no longer aromatically-challenged, I was very late. However somewhere between sauteeing the apples and rubbing spices on the chicken, I had realised that this was inevitable, and instead of attempting my stopping time trick , and cursing my stupid stupid irresponsible ways,  I decided that it was what it was, and quite uncharacteristically remained fairly calm (another plug for endorphines).
When I left my home with my hot dishes clanking around ominously in the back seat, I looked up to see the most spectacular sunset. As I drove, it just became more and more incredible. I called Aaron, and we talked about how it was almost surreally beautiful.The banks of multi-coloured clouds created an optical illusion of depth, and as I drove, I almost felt as though I was entering another incredibly beautiful world, it really felt as though the sunset was enveloping me.
Now that I think about it, it was very much the way I imagine what passing from this world into the next one will be like, walking into an increasingly spectacular and serene environment.  I wish I had better power over words to be able to describe what I saw, but all I can say is that I felt extremely blessed not to have missed it. I cannot imagine anywhere or thing else as beautiful. When I arrived (about 20 minutes late) at my destination, I insisted on bringing everyone out onto the patio to share it. What they saw from our vantage point was gorgeous to be sure, but it was not the full sensory experience that I had enjoyed driving over.
For some reason, and like many women I suspect,  I have always felt a sense of obligation to beat myself up for my failings, for my inability to time things better so that I am not always hurried and leaving chaos in my wake, for my lack of discipine in knowing when enough is enough.
Last night as I was discovering the stove, I briefly entertained the guilty thoughts that I was late not even for a good cause, not because I was caring for my family, but rather because of my self indulgent run, which I probably could have skipped or cut shorter or gone on earlier, but then I realised that it too, had been perfectly timed. The weather was perfect, the traffic was light and my family did benefit from the endorphines. While I ran I had been marveling over the ability I had to do that, gaining perspective and feeling gratitude for my health, not to mention doing something to preserve that health.  So when I decided to ditch the self-flagellation, and that sense of acceptance washed over me in my kitchen, when I realised that being late was not the most heinous of crimes, when I pictured the group of women I would be joining oblivious to my angst,  laughing and talking and eating the vast amount of food already there, when I realised that the world was not stopping due to my tardiness, I could enjoy the process of discovering how to make something new. I could be grateful and courteous to my husband when he came home to help instead of hysterical and snappish and I could experience unfamiliar feelings of kindness toward myself.
Driving off into that sunset I feel was God's way of showing me that He approved of the kindness I had shown to His child. I bet He does not like it when I tell myself how stupid, stupid, stupid I am, anymore then I like it when my kids say the same to themselves (and it's definitely my least favourite thing to hear them say). I believe that sunset was His way of smiling at me and saying, "yes, that's much better-good girl".
He really does not expect perfection from me, and while I know that cognitively, from that sunset I got the almost visceral sense that my good enough was really, truly good enough. That sometimes, straying from the original plan can have great rewards, and that God is not nearly as tough in His expectations of me as I am, and finally, that really, some things are just not as big a deal as I think they are. Was that sunset created just for me? I doubt it. But I got the message I needed from it and that is good enough for me.
I do plan to continue my quest to improve my skills of punctuality, for the sake of my husband apart from anything else, but I hope that this will be a reminder to me to be kinder to myself and kinder to others as I go through that process. I am realising that by being so hard on myself I tend to inflict similarly harsh standards on those around me who are also just doing their best. I have never really thought about it before,  but I know for a surety that God values kindness far over punctuality, and that when I am kind to people, including the time management challenged, cooking impaired and sweaty, He smiles.
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Well Said!!!!!
Posted by: Carolyn | October 24, 2007 at 10:03 PM

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