Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Good Time

by Zinta Aistars

Rough day. If anything could go wrong today at the office, it went extra wrong. Murphy's Law had settled like a dark cloud overhead. By lunchtime, I was questioning everything. Including myself, and that's never fun. Every decision, past, present or future, seemed iffy. Today was the kind of day that I felt so far from my best dreams that they were a fading pinpoint in the next universe.

Five o'clock and the end of the work day couldn't feel sweeter. With a sigh, I was out the door. And still, that dark puff overhead floated along. As soon as I merged onto the interstate toward home, an SUV the size of a small mountain pulled up behind my little Civic. Pulled up so close his headlights bobbed just above my bumper. If anything happened ahead of me, no doubt in my mind I would get rear ended. I tapped my brakes to indicate that he was too close.

His response? He pulled back just far enough to aim headlights into my rearview mirror and turned on his high beams. I blinked at the glare, shoved my mirror down to keep from being blinded. For the next several miles, he stayed glued to my bumper, high beams on.

Yeah, Merry Christmas to you, too.

Finally, I had a chance to slip through traffic and into the next lane, blinking to get my vision back. My mind rumbled over bumpy thoughts all the way home. Maybe I'd chosen the wrong career. Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a writer, after all. Maybe living alone deep, deeper, deepest in the woods was an excellent idea, all communications with the civilized world severed. Maybe I would never achieve zero debt so that I could find out. Maybe I'd be spinning in this gerbil wheel forever, and the harder I ran, the faster I stayed in place. Oh hrmph.

I coasted home on cruise control. Easy driving. Only that was a bummer, too. I'd been waiting and waiting (and waiting) for a good snow, and not a flake to be seen. A little drizzle, a little spit, but the world remained triple shades of gray and black and piddly brown. No winter joy. I'd suffered through a long, sweaty summer for this?

Grumble, hrmph, spitty spit, mutter, grump. I even felt a spot of wet collect in the corner of my eye. This was not a good time.

By the time I drove into my driveway, it was solid night. Even so, in the faint silvery flow of the street light, I could see something hanging from the doorknob of my front door. A little gift bag. I skipped up the stairs to take a closer look. The bag was a pattern of red and green and gold, a beautiful Christmas globe at center that said "Merry & Bright." The handles were silver rope.

I plucked the bag off the doorknob and took it inside. Fed the dog and cat, picked through the day's junk mail, put a pot of homemade soup on the stove to warm up.

Then I sat down next to the fireplace, set aflame, and took another look at the gift bag. Merry & Bright ... I wasn't feeling it. But how sweet to find this gift awaiting me home on an icky day. Who was it from? What was inside?

I drew out a card in a red envelope. On it: "Zinta/Mom." And I knew. It was from my son and his lady Dawn.

My heart pinged. I knew, here was a large part of the reason I was dragging my heels into this holiday. My son and his lady would not be among us for Christmas. Oh, how I would miss my boy, grown man that he was ... and Dawn was dawning a sweet color of rose on his horizon, bringing light back into his life.

"For a Mother who loves and gives so much ... " I read the card, and my eyes got misty again.

Inside were two gifts, each carefully wrapped. A pillar candle, because I can never have too many, and something else, wrapped inside an intriguing swirl of gray paper. Written this way and that across and around it were sayings about TIME.

"Timing is everything."

"Take time to smell the roses."

"Take your time."

"Time will tell."

"Time is on your side."

"There's a time to work, and a time to rest."

"Time heals all wounds."

"I'm having a great time."

I unwrapped slowly, taking my time, and inside was a delicate little hour glass. I set it on the corner of the coffee table and watched the glittering sand begin to trickle through the slender middle, from the top into the bottom of the glass.


They knew ... how much time I spent worrying about time. Not enough. Too  much left. How to use it. How best to enjoy it. How not to waste it. How to save it. How to spend it well. How to cherish it. Where to direct it. When to keep a tight hold on it and when to let it fly and when to just let it go. And most of all, I worried about when it would be the right time ...

Time. Sometimes I lost track of it. Sitting here now, in this moment of time, I watched the tiny grains swirl through to the bottom and was mesmerized by the trickling sands of time. I had started to practice meditation recently, and this hour glass seemed like a wonderful way to measure time in a soft, unobtrusive way as I lost myself in time.

Funny. Watching the grains of sand pass like time, I felt the stress of the day ease away. My pulse slowed. There was nothing I could do to stop the grains of sand from falling. I could not slow them down. I could not speed them up. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Time just kept flowing.

For this moment, I could just be. Time moved ahead without my assistance. What I needed, what I wanted to accomplish, my son and Dawn were right, time would tell when time was right. There was so much I still wanted to do, and I was frustrated at not having the time, or that it wasn't that time yet that I could immerse myself fully.

It was not yet time, and I had to do my time until it was. If I could just slow my mind, I would be able to move through the confusion and find the answers.

Odd, how this little hourglass inspired introspection, even as it calmed me into a slower pace.

I brewed a cup of tea, sat down again, sipped and watched the grains of sand. Nothing would ease the ache of time spent apart. My daughter and her Derek were coming out for the holidays. Someone near, so dear, someone far, so dear, and the heart simmered between joy and sorrow.

Time spent waiting. Time passed doing. 

As the old year passed into memory, and the new year approached with a promise of fresh-to-be-used time, I wondered at all its promise. In time, my son and his Dawn would be back home again, too. Good times would come again.

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