The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self. . .
Sit. Feast on your life.
~ Derek Walcott (from Love after Love)
Flowers waiting to thaw.
Friday Jim shared his railroad watch. A magnificent timepiece. It’d just come back from repair after a year, two jewelers, and a re-jeweled rare part. I guessed its large size with big numbers so to be easily seen on a rocking train. He told me how the four bold notches between each number marks a minute. You know what time it is, exactly, he said. Don’t hit another train. He showed me how you have to unscrew the rim around the face to change the time. So it won’t change on its own while in a pocket or dropped. So you don’t hit another train, he said again. He showed me the back screws off so you can blow away dust, or see why it quits. Everything built in to ensure you don’t hit another train, the whole reason it was designed. I’ve felt I’ve needed a watch like that for months now.
I didn’t realize I’d already started pulling the threads of my life together two days before. The weaving looks different when that happens, which is a good thing. But you don’t usually see the moment it starts. Now, I see it was when someone asked online how to get up in the morning. She continually goes back to sleep after the alarm sounds, she said. Even when it’s across the room. The answer so clear to me, I wrote one word. Decide.
But I made no connection for myself. Not even when later I gazed on the world like I used to, with awe and wonder. Lingered, watching sunlight shimmer through the mating plumage that fell from the shoulders of the snowy egrets, spread like gossamer wedding veils, the trains trailing in water. My eyes resting in the palest, softest pink they turned in those moments between sunrise and that point you call day. Or the luck I felt seeing six cormorants hard at work twisting and yanking small sprigs with leaves from the top branches of a live oak they then carried across the bayou to their nests on the big mangrove island. Or that I noticed for the first time, ever, bobbing ducks tuck their thick tails down a true 45 degrees, cantilever as they stretch their heads under water to feed. Their duck butts in the air. Or that I decided to take my camera out again, when I’d had no heart to capture this beautiful world. And later, when a brilliant 6-inch rainbow wand of light spread off the low window sill in my kitchen, and I felt the catch in my chest as there was no logic how it was there, I still didn’t put it all together. Not even when I wrote all day on the book I couldn’t write for weeks. I forgot all this when I sat with Jim, feeling lucky I had such an interesting friend. Didn’t see I was back in Wonderland.
Saturday I crashed and exploded. It was ugly, inside and out.
Sunday, Valentine’s Day, I read the comments about it being a commercial Hallmark holiday. The condolences for those alone feeling less-than or left out. I could only think No! Valentine’s Day is not about romance, unless that’s what you choose. It’s about Love. The child who gives cards to classmates, or his mother. Not about romance. Valentine gifts to friends. The dog treat, the extra greeting to a waitress. Not about romance. None of it commercial or cheap. Yes, some are left out, and it’s hard, and that’s life. Let’s cheer there’s a day we’re asked to pause, focus on love. Cheer there’s a call to splurge once a year, show our love. Cheer the romantics with chocolates and flowers. Cheer the small shops and florists their one day people swarm in, the extra money that makes up for the slow times. Obligation with a capital O is what we take on. Just let it be about love. And if there’s no one around, love yourself. Give yourself a chocolate cupcake with a heart on top.
We all have one word or thought that pushes, or jiggles, us out of Stuck, shows up again and again at each crossroads. This Valentine’s Day I finally saw mine – Decide – made it my gift to myself. I decided to fall back in love with Life. To look toward my Vision, not the seeming black water between my here and desired there. Find my Why for what I do, go forward. And it suddenly felt like stepping stones will appear. For I noticed.
How do you find your stepping stones?
Another small journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life
Amy Tingle’s mother got this tiny typewriter from her parents when she graduated from junior college with her secretarial degree. Amy played with the charm as a kid. And she gave it to Amy. A Valentine, a love song, a poem, Amy says. And when you read about Amy, you know it’s exactly that.
A secret: I wrote the word Decide on a card, put it where I see it every day.
A favorite: The way ducks talk to each other, one quiet quack followed by a fellow quack.
Two days after I wrote this blog, in my inbox:
A decision is the ultimate success trigger.