There are eighteen things on my to-do list for today, and that doesn’t count the things I’ll do without thinking or adding them to the list (including this writing). I made the list last night right before I gave up on yesterday and fell asleep. I have another list of things I want to do before snow comes, which could be any day. That list has been in existence for about a month now, to be used as “filler” if I have a free minute. Last time I checked my calendar, I should have one or two minutes available around January second. That’s a Friday, not a holiday, so I guess I’d better request that day off of work. I’ll add that to my list of things to do next week.
About a week ago a friend sent an email to several of us asking if we could all get together for coffee soon. I didn’t know what he meant by “soon” and I figured no one else in our group knew either when there were no replies to the email twenty-four hours later. So I replied. “I can do October 25 early in the morning, otherwise I can’t until November 15.” My friend wrote back, “I guess tomorrow’s out?” The good news is we’re all getting together on the 25th.
I learned a long time ago that I need to write things down or I’ll forget. And lately there’s been so much stress that I’ve forgotten to write things down, which is why I wrote my list of things to do today while laying in bed last night and fighting to keep my eyes opened. I found my list on the floor beside my bed this morning. I still haven’t located my pencil. I’d better write that down, to look for it, so I don’t get stabbed when I crawl into bed tonight.
Another thing I learned a long time ago is that sometimes I need to “ground” myself to the present moment. Despite all the craziness around me and all the tasks I need to get done, I know I will be a lot better off if I stop and listen to my inner spirit for a few minutes. Call it a check in of sorts, to make sure I still am aware of the world around me outside of my hectic life and to-do lists.
And so it was that I started out this week early on Sunday morning, standing at the top of a hill with my camera, ready to snap a photo of a lovely boulevard of fall colors. The colors are gorgeous this year and I was forcing myself to stop and pay attention. I “stole” fifteen minutes from my schedule and drove to an area close to our home that is a bluff above a river. The trees had not yet changed in the river valley below, but the maples sure had great color up on the bluff. As I prepared the shot, up the hill came a man on roller blades, moving so rapidly that I blinked and he was out of the shot. I snapped the picture. He sailed around back to me to make a joke about my having taken his picture. Turns out he wanted his picture taken. He handed me his phone and he insisted on at least a dozen “takes” before he was happy with one. “I’m not good at action shots!” I kept telling him but he didn’t care. He knew what he wanted and he was going to take as much time as necessary to get it. But what about my time? What about my list of things I needed, wanted, to get done that day? I hadn’t allowed for the half hour photo shoot and conversation in my schedule.
So here I am at the end of the week, still trying to tackle some things that have carried over on my list all week long. And I can’t help but think about that man flying up that hill on his roller blades. He told me his name was Peter and he was a retired doctor. He said his daughter who lives in California is always nagging him about whether he’s getting enough exercise or eating right. She doesn’t believe that at 70 years old he is still out and about and staying active so he wanted an action shot to prove he still has his moves. Maybe if I’d taken a photography class I would be better at action shots. I’ll have to add that to my long-term list of things to do.
In our brief conversation, I learned Peter coaches a high school cross-country ski team. He runs or roller blades every day. He also writes and has a part-time job at a clinic. Retirement is the best thing that happened to him, he said, and he wants to make the most of every minute. He talked all about himself and presumed I was a nature lover because I was out taking photos of fall colors. He also assumed I didn’t have a lot of things to do if I was standing in the middle of a street taking pictures of leaves and old men.
It goes without saying that Peter ran circles around me that morning. I can’t imagine the energy he extended and the calories he burned recreating the perfect shot so many times before I finally snapped it. Sorry, it’s on his phone and I don’t have that one to share. But the moment has stayed with me all week long. If I could be so blessed to be roller blading uphill! At 70!
I don’t know how to roller blade. Better add that to my long-term list of things to do.