Gentle Reader: Got a sec? Yes, I know you are busy but give me 4 minutes for a Thought for the Day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Fall is a very busy time in North Dakota. Everyone shifts from enjoying our summers of 15 hours of sunlight to getting back to business. We are coming out of a very busy 2 months and getting caught up both in the office and at home. Life has been–do this, do that. To-Do lists. Do you notice even in our small talk how often we ask people how or what are they doing? Sometimes I think we are better classified as human doings rather than human beings.
Pause for a moment to consider the distinction between DOING and BEING. What if we re-think all that busy-ness and our need to DO things? Inside my kitchen cupboard door—all yellow and cracked, is this clipping: “I do not love you for what you do, but who you are.”
What if we create a To-Be List? BE creative, BE courageous, BE happy, and BE a stand for something. This list does not have required elements in order to happen—they are not about the pursuit of anything. They are simply choices.
Look closer at Shakespeare’s famous quote–especially the last part:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them.
By choosing, we create what we choose. I choose a perfect life. I choose abundance. I choose peace-ful. There are no required criteria to fulfill these. Once I choose it–it exists.
Next time you see a friend, don’t ask how they are but ask instead: “Who are you? What is amazing in your life? Please take the time to tell me.”
Quietly humming: “Do be do be do . . . “
Gentle reader: After 6 inches of powder fell today there has been a lot of chatter about snow removal equipment and tractors of various sizes. I was reminded of this converastion of almost 25 years ago.
I had taken my daughter, about age 5, to the clinic for the usual URI. The pediatrician on call that day was the locally famous and well-loved, Dr. Pieter Smeenk. That particular day he was wearing a toy John Deere tractor clipped to his necktie–as only a clever pediatrician would do. The conversation ensued as follows.
Mom to Daughter: Look, Dr. Smeenk has a John Deere tractor too!
Dr. Smeenk to Daughter: Do you have a big green tractor?
Daughter, shyly: Yes, it’s really noisy.
Dr. Smeenk: What does it sound like?
Daughter abandons her coyness, proudly fills her lungs and says loudly: Bup, bup , wheeeeeeee . . . BUMP , BUMP, BUMP, WRRROOOOAARRRRRR!
Dr. Smeenk: Oh My!, that sounds like a diesel engine with an gasoline starting motor!
Mom: Yes, indeed. It’s a 720.
Finale (after much giggling and laughter):
Daughter says matter-of-factly to Dr. Smeenk: Grampie says naughty words when the big noise doesn’t go.
Gentle Reader: We’ve had incredible weather this fall here at the 46th parallel. Last weekend the temperatures were in the upper 60’s and even lower 70’s. But we have also had a couple of good snows –dropping enough white stuff to bring out the shovels.
As we head back to more seasonally normal temperatures and prepare for winter, I’m consoled by the fact that I will have access to fresh, organic produce grown right here on a local farm. You read correctly, right through the winter. Riverbound Farm is located south of Mandan along the historic Highway 1806 and I’m a shareholder in this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Angie and Brian McGinniss have added a winter CSA subscription. So each week shareholders now have the bounty year ‘round–even in North Dakota.
In addition to pastured poultry and free-range eggs, the bonus opportunity is my family’s Thanksgiving turkey is coming from there as well. Time to fire-up the rotisserie grill.
* Angie and Brian McGinness own the farm but are far from old. They are a delightful young couple with a passion for growing high-quality produce on the land homesteaded by Angie’s great-grandparents. About 40 miles upriver at Sanger ND, was my great-grand parents’ homestead.
Gentle Reader: Here in North Dakota we have the privilege of four distinct seasons which clearly helps her citizens mark time and the passage of years. Still the days drip, drip, drip through that hourglass and evaporate at an alarming speed. While we attempt to pack our lives full of dreams and aspirations, too often we find ourselves living for some future mystery like, “once I get ____, I’ll be happy/successful/fulfilled.”
Consider the reverse. Living in the past is nothing more than rewinding the DVR and wastes today while watching the re-play. “If only I could do _____ over again.” Mourning the loss of time in squandered lives is also about as productive as shoveling smoke.
Being a 9-year survivor of breast cancer, my concept of time has simplified. The notion that “every day is a gift” is one of the more profound realizations one can absorb and has become my mantra. The recent news about a friend’s serious illness has her cohorts reeling from the shock. I, among them, find myself reflecting again on the intrinsic value of each day as more than just a commodity or something to be managed and plugged into my Outlook program.
In the current issue’s editorial Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, wrote,
“My guess is that whatever we think we’ve lost we never had, that waiting to find it again is as stupid as expecting trout to rise to the same dry fly two days in a row, and that life is best lived between the lost and the found, just this side of hope and on the other side of nostalgia.”
Distilled to its essence, all we have is today.
Gentle Reader: I was just about to toss the last two fading, pistachio-green, spider mums plucked from wedding bouquets when I recalled the entire wedding panorama as a whirlwind of activity and vignettes of poignant moments. While I have many mementos to recapture those moments, these mums rewound time– past that week –back to her going off to college, recovering from a brain tumor, getting her driver’s license, school projects, brownie scouts, tricycles, first steps, and a first tooth.
She was married in that same prairie place where I discovered her first tooth, where I carried her through my pregnancy while taking care of the trees and the land. Now she and her husband plant a Wedding Tree and take care of that North Dakota land . . . and their marriage.
During cool days in June we ask if summer will ever arrive. During cool days in July we are thankful for a respite from the heat. During cool days in August, we feel fall in the air.
Gentle Reader: Last week’s sad news has turned partly sunny. Feeling the need to take my own words to heart, I reaffirmed the challenge to find Kathy, my next door neighbor and childhood friend from age 6. I had tried to find her 5 years ago and failed. But with more advanced internet White Pages and a fifteen-year-old phone number, I found her.
We spent a good 25 minutes on the phone getting caught up on our headlines from the past 15 years and a few classmates and family. Her recent headline: just 3 weeks ago she donated one of her kidneys to her husband, Bill. Guess that eliminates any doubt in my mind whether they were still together.
Kathy wanted to know if I was still writing poetry and to let me know that she is not able to part with the blue lace brush-roller bag I gave her (probably in junior high). Our mothers were also very close. They had tea every afternoon–alternating kitchens. Every Friday they went grocery shopping together–followed by tea, of course. Meanwhile in the summertime, Kathy and I were swimming at Hillside Pool. Yes, every afternoon. Mornings too.