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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pile/Little Things

Tuesday and tonight is my writing group which has, temporarily been moved to Tuesdays. Busy day...car to the shop to fix the bumper I messed up when I backed into the Volvo in the alley, making a birthday cake for a friend and delivering it, and digging into my new project - needing to become a call recording expert in short order!

Was it the gray day yesterday and still too much winter ahead of us that caused a malaise? Got into the car with Adrienne and she announced, "Today is the day I am officially tired of winter!" It was the sunless gray day that got to her. Yesterday,I, too, found myself dispirited and just going through the motions. "What are the sources of my anxiety?" I asked myself. Knew one of them right away. The pile. Almost a foot high that pile - each day I put on my to-do list "go through pile" and every day I shirk the task. What's curious to me is why I allowed such a pile to exist and live on in my life - it's as if I had become weirdly attached to it like a strange friend. Glimmer of understanding - the pile is maybe one of many "piles" I carry around like an old dog who can't walk. Thinking the thought even crossed my mind, "What will be left to do if you don't have the pile? What will you do with your life when everything is organized - as if I will have no raison d'etre or need for a daily list - as if life will cease without burdens and odious tasks! At this point, you're probably thinking, "Sarah overthinks everything - it's just a pile of crap for God's sake - everyone has a pile!"

I decided to rid myself of the pile and then when it was vanquished, to think about virtual piles I have sitting in corners of my life: my divorce, reviewing health insurance claims, photos.....lots more. Gritting my teeth, I embraced the damned thing - put it front and center on my desk and said to it, "Today is a good day to die!" OK, I didn't say that or even think it but the whole gun thing is on my mind. What I DID do was take a blank piece of paper and write the word, "Happiness" on it with a corny smile face. I put that piece of paper at the bottom of the pile and knew the next time I'd see it was when every last piece of paper was dealt with. Took five hours and lots of scanning and reviewing, but at 5PM, the pile was no more. I actually kissed the piece of paper with the smiley face when I got to it.

New friend of mine said something I like. He said, "..it's certain small things in life that often point to really huge things if you are able to connect the dots." I would take it a step further and say, the small things are the most important things. Grand gestures, passionate orations, big plans - they're the things we talk about. Less so the little, unglamorous day-in-and-day-out observances and habits that are the sturdy or fragile fabric of our lives. Those are, I think, the things that really count.

A revelation for me, the woman who lives her life like it's performance art. The concept that, at the end of our lives, it will be the little dots that will be connected by those we leave behind as our contribution is celebrated and assessed. When Mark's friend and sister got up to talk at his service, and Chris' family spoke at his, their remembrances were of small acts of kindness, quiet intimate moments, sweet and funny and probably, at the time, seemingly insignificant anecdotes. Those were the things that mattered in the very final analysis.

So, thinking the little things are the big things. In my environment, mocking piles of disorganization that I'm perversely attached to speak to me  every time I walk past them.  They say, "There's more work to be done...there are difficult cobwebs yet to untangle and sweep away...there is more where I came from." And, in between the epic parties is the meat of life - the way I choose to spend each day, the people who I orbit with, the causes I celebrate, the songs I choose to sing. Little/big decisions.

Challenge today is thinking about that and maybe identifying your "piles". If you are living next to them, what are they whispering to you? What is the strange hold they exert over you? Are you, like me, afraid that, without your piles, you might be nothing? That the work will be done? That you will be done?