Looking Out

“It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us…on the inside, looking out.” 

Jonathan Safran Foer

It has been a glorious day in the hill country of Texas.

Michael and I walked the dogs and came home to start cleaning up the yard. I learned last year the window to do this type of work is pretty narrow.

The thing about doing yard work is my mind if free to think–I don’t have the ability to work and filter thoughts. The result is all kinds of random memories float unbidden in and out of my consciousness.

Today thoughts of my dad hung out with me as I pulled weeds and examined the surviving plants and shrubs. As I dug out clusters of weeds I remembered clearing off his huge desk top.

I was probably five or six years old and I thought I was such an excellent helper. As I looked over his desk, it was obvious, he needed some help.

The focal point of the desk was a large dark glass ashtray. This was where I’d start because it was always over flowing. I knew from my frequent visits this office was the meeting place for sales people, people with questions about supplies, and anyone in need of help figuring out what was needed for a special project. I knew many of those conversations were at least two or three cigarettes long which explained the condition of that ashtray.

With the focal point polished and replaced in its prominent position, I’d polish the glass top and begin repositioning papers. I’d dash around the desk, placing neat stacks next to the next neat stack, carefully making each stack the same height as the next while aligning all edges perfectly to the edges of the desk.

It was a work of art and I was so proud.

I learned years later my hard work created even more hard work for my dad. What appeared to be unorganized was actually carefully and very personalized paper placement. It took him days to find things after my surprise cleaning visits.

The most amazing thing about this memory is I realized just this morning my desk top has ALWAYS looked exactly like my dad’s–before I showed up to help him out–minus that big ashtray.

I’m thinking I may need to wave the white flag at some of my decluttering attempts.

“When the remembering was done, the forgetting could begin.” 

Sara Zarr

I am…

B…simply being.



Remember is the last month,’ said Festival.
‘Remember’s not a month.’
‘Of course it is,’ said Festival. ‘There are twelve months thirty days long and the five days at the end of the year that are left over are called Remember. It’s when we all remember what happened in the past year, all the people who were born and all the people who died. You have to have Remember, otherwise you’d start the next year out of balance.”
― Colin Thompson, How to Live Forever

2017 is drawing to a close and we are all preparing to begin a new year. In years past, I’d be planning a big house party so we could gather together, enjoy great food, drink excellent wine, and enjoy each other’s company. Those were the days when we lived our lives, unknown to us at the time,  much more superficially. Looking back, it was so crazy. We had a very tight-knit group of friends, busy with our careers and life in general. We celebrated birthdays, watched football games, rang in the new year, christening new marriages and surprise babies.

Oh, that fickle finger of fate teamed up with the persistent ebb of time, wearing away at the edges of the grand illusions we’d all created. Kids left for school, soon graduating, and lives began to shift and evolve.  Before we realized it, our tightly knit group had already begun to unravel.

This is one more reason we need to find a way to have our own rituals of change. Change is often very personal–what is difficult for me is my friend’s cause for celebration. Our personal take on these events should not negate anything for either of us. It does, however, make it very difficult for us to join together in any type of mutual acknowledgment. Who of us have not been friends with couples who have divorced–now what? Can you be friends with both people from that fractured relationship? Rarely does that work for long.

My message today is as the year comes to a close, make your own rituals of closure. Take the time to think of those in your life who are important to you. Think of the joys, the challenges, and the losses you’ve all endured. Acknowledge and celebrate them fully so you can move on to the new year balanced and ready for every experience and opportunity.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.