Minus 37 with the wind chill factor. That one hour school delay affording the buses an extra hour off for idling -- it should have been the ticket, really. There I was. Bleary-eyed from a night of restless sleep, worried over deadlines to come, papers to write, classes to teach and examinations to prepare for, jarred awake at 5:30 a.m. And I could have had that extra hour of precious sleep, but who's to know that early? That one sweet hour would be given like a gift?
My brain, like the weather, on permanent freeze status. One never knows what a day might bring.
For who was I to know that I would pick up a small tube of Optimyixin antibiotic solution and think it was model cement glue and that I would proceed to try and fix my daughter's broken snowflake earring with and also attempt to right a broken headband flower that had fallen off in the tug and pull that is our morning hair-do sessions with the same. Who was I to know? I thought it was a little sticky. The earring is still sitting there on the shelf, fully medicated and fully slicked.
And how was I to know that I would find myself with two gold dangly earrings pulled neatly through one ear lobe? So that I would sound for all the world like an old cowbell while looking like a woman who hadn't seen a mirror in quite a while. How was I to know? I truly hadn't (seen the mirror, for quite some time).
And then. With lint all over my new pants to which, I took long strips of packing tape which I then used as a make-fix lint remover, all while standing discreetly behind the kindergarten shoe cubby only to have inquiring little minds ask me what the tape was for (and why was I doing THAT)?
It was that kind of day.
A day that drives me to consider that one key word gnawing relentless at my soul at this, the dawning of a brand new year: BALANCE.
A need for, indeed, a craving for: balance. A desire to live life in balance. That state of reasonable equilibrium wherein one is poised in between sanity and insanity in perfect steadiness. That's what I need this year. A place to settle. A place to fall.
When my world seems just a little too off kilter, when the boat rocks me too hard one way and then another, I needs come back to that place I find my center. My niche. My sense of peace. My source of hope. My fulcrum.
When the world seems perpetually to be lobbing me one hardball after another, in the good name and spirit of family and community, faith and common brotherhood. In the name of all good things, there still must be a balance.
For if not, I will inevitably totter off the deep edge and be swallowed alive.
I am not much for New Years resolutions, although we did for fun state one each around the table, our first meal of the New Year. Rather than resolve, I choose to purpose my intentions. And in so doing, I hope that I will not set myself up for failure.
Here are a few ways in which I hope to carve out a sweet slice of balance for myself this new year of 2014:
1.) I am making more time in the morning for reading. For prayer. For quiet, reflective meditation on those ancient Scriptures, words of wisdom of which I have been given ample portion. That quiet time in the morning is mine in which to think. To ponder and consider. To both speak and listen. To be spiritually fed.
2.) I am taking the time to physically exercise, even when I don't feel that drive to get up and go. I am still going to JUST DO IT. Just for the fun of it. Just for the fresh air and wind. Just for that cold slap on my cheeks. Husband and I, in an ironic twist on the tale Gifts of the Magi each bought for the other something akin to the same. He bought for me a pass to the local ski park (minus the equipment) while I bought for him the double pair of snowshoes. Neither knew what the other was up to. A perfect meeting of the minds.
3.) I am making more time to play. And I confess, I am not that playful by nature. My daughter commented to me just the other day that I never play with her, to which I immediately felt defensive: of course I play! But truly playfulness is the spirit in which you set out to do that pleasure or novelty of which you are endeavoring; and to that end, I must admit that I am not always very playful. So, I am purposing to play more, by which I mean experience life more so in a spirit of wonder and playfulness.
4.) And I purpose also to choose to see the beauty in my world. This world: it is filled with so much darkness -- so many shadows and grey lines. Overshadowed by so very many of those dark, heavy, black clouds. And when I focus on all that which is misery and sadness and heartache and bitterness and evil, I no longer see the beauty. But life is still so beautiful. In spite of its darkness. And there is much beauty to be found, even in pain. The beauty of a jagged line -- a scar. Beauty of a smudge. A trace left behind. A crooked smile. There is beauty to be found in tears, even in sorrow. And yes, beauty can rise up strong even from crumbled ashes and decay. Life may not be pretty or appealing from every angle, but it can be beautiful from the perspective of the viewer who chooses to see light instead of darkness.
5.) And of greatest significance: I purpose to live for what is worthwhile -- for that which lasts. For that which matters. What is the pursuit of the soul that is lasting? That does not fade? That rewards back 70-fold for the endeavor? For we can pursue many things and many places in this life and still find ourselves wanting. True balance can only be found in perfect rest. Rest equal to peace of the soul-kind. A peace that passes understanding, that always satisfies. That is never exhausted and is in plentiful supply.
Whether I am using my moments to be a mother or using my moments to be a teacher or a wife. Whether I am using time so as to better myself- or so as to better others, it all boils down to choice. Am I fully here in this moment or am I somewhere else? Am I living for what matters? Is all well with my soul?
These things are the driving impetus to my life: my faith, my precious family and my focus (the purpose of my life in the present here and now). And it takes all three to be wholly who I was meant to be.
I start the van at the end of the day, engine rattles to life in spite of itself. She wants a bit of time to warm her jets, but I have places to go and people to feed. We head for home. And I feel my body unwinding -- I feel my soul searching for the balance. Even in the midst of quiet imperfection.