Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bossy Betty's Birthday Manifesto: Part One

While some may look down the highway of time and see birthdays waiting there in the distance, like large roadkill---partially unidentifiable carcasses that become horrifyingly recognizable as you approach them and see a paw or a hoof jutting out of the mangled heap at an unnatural angle--not Betty!  She looks ahead on the highway of time and sees most birthdays as cheerful roadside stands wherein you can buy fruit, flowers, and perhaps a bottle of Coca-Cola too.  

For those birthdays that end in -0, however, a roadside stand just will not do.  Oh no.  These birthdays have been advertised all our lives with big billboards  So for miles and miles the anticipation mounts for the sleek truck/travelers' stop with clean restrooms. The hunger for the world famous soup/pecan log/date shake advertised grows as we ride mile after mile, just looking for that exit.  Then, suddenly, it happens.  It's here. It's time to take that turn, get out, stretch our legs, fill up the tank, have a bite to eat, and nod our heads in recognition at the other travelers.  It's an occasion to stop and take stock of just how far we've come, where we are going, and check to make sure we still have a steady supply of moist towelettes in the glove compartment.

So Betty sits down today at the cheerful blue booth provided by this Haven on the Highway to have a little cellephane-wrapped snack and do a little thinkin'.  Here's Part One of her thinkin':  

It's human nature, I suppose to look ahead and think about the future, but what are we missing right under our noses while we are doing just that?  Why is it we think that whatever is to come is more interesting than what we are going through right now?  Judging from the poems and books on this subject, I know I am not alone in this quest.   From the poem "Next, Please" by Philip Larkin, to Be Here Now by Ram Dass, to the country song, "Don't Blink," it's a theme running through our lives, so why is it so hard to do? 

Birthday Manifesto, Part I:  I will remember to treasure all that surrounds me now, to stop the squirrels in my head from scampering to the next tree too quickly.  On this day I will notice the color and texture of Evan's hair, the way HOB smells just before he goes to work.  I will marvel at the way my legs move smoothly as I walk.  I will listen to the sound of laughter in my office wing. I will just stop and take in the scene of my students at their desks and understand that this moment in time will never come again.  I will look around the dinner table tonight and recognize the beauty of the three of us sitting together in this bubble of time.  I will open an e-mail from Sonny Boy and see his familiar personality come through in his writing.  I will call my mother, hear her pick up the phone and say, "Hello?" and realize how lucky I am for the privilege of still hearing her voice. I will--

Whew.  This may be a lot of work here.  If you find me passed out in the sink tonight, it was not the work of the Glowing Moth (even though it DID challenge me!)  

It will be from sheer exhaustion from the digestion of this delicious life.  


Anonymous said...

omg betty, this choked me up. thank you.

Susan said...

Beautiful! I will try to live in the now like you Betty!