What You Should Tell Yourself Everyday Because Life is Short
There is something wrong with our stove.
Some days, when all I want is a cup of tea, I have to stand by the stove for a full five minutes while I wait for the water to boil, pressing the cancel button each time it starts beeping and the screen starts flashing a green -F1-.
The electrician said to turn the breaker off for ten minutes and maybe it would reset itself. Now, turning off the breaker has become an act of pure survival as it tends to go off beeping in the middle of the night and raise Cain about it.
Secretly, I believe it is dying a slow and painful death.
No one has bothered to google it or call the electrician back, or make the round of phone calls it takes to get approval from the rail road to buy a new stove. That's life in my household. Some things just never make it onto the to-do list. But it's okay.
I'm not sure what our old stove has to do with this post, but I wanted to write about it, so I think I will probably find out sooner or later. Maybe it's just because I want to write and I have not, and I want to leave a pretty piece somewhere where perhaps you'll find it and it will make you smile.
Maybe inspiration misses me and for once has come looking for me instead of the other way around.
Maybe it is because I miss you.
Maybe it because I've held off writing because I've felt the need to perform for you, and now I'm tired of being trapped by that feeling, and I'm letting it all out loose and wild, homespun and ordinary.
So maybe you don't want a long, thought-out post, a performance. Maybe you just want some raw, free-spirited, undoctored words from someone normal, from just a girl and her tea cup and her prairie and her dreams.
Well, you've come to the right place.
The rancher cut his hay the other day. It was still May then, and it rained before he got it all in. Some of it is still drying in long flat rows and Dawna and I sang the harvest song from Larkrise to Candleford.
It is the earliest cutting I can ever remember for my stretch of prairie. At least, in a very long time.
These pictures are bits and pieces of my life this spring. I've been away and far, here and there, home, and gone. Anywhere but writing here. But these are small bits and crumbs from what has happened.
- A road trip to Colorado & mountains
- More rain
- Splashes of pink across a dark sky
- Muddy boots
- Warm days mixed between cold
- Wishing for summer
A long, but hurried spring lies in my wake. A wake with few pictures, few pretty pieces that actually became pretty pieces and didn't just remain wishes. A lot of waiting and not really living. Getting through instead of making do. But I can't remember being more satisfied.
Summer is here. Really, it's on its way. There's a whole lot of sunshine left out there for beautiful things to happen. Summer has become my moment to heave a long sigh of relief and quiet.
Something I keep telling myself is:
You are enough for you.
I found myself waiting for only one ultimate dream once upon a time. I waited for the pieces to fall into place. But I couldn't put them together so I wondered if there really were any pieces that fit me at all.
I looked back behind me and saw so many things I could have done better. I looked ahead of me and saw so many more regrets and wasted opportunities.
But then I said, "No. Not this time."
Life is too short.
I sat with my grandmother today, her sister, her cousin. I watched them walk with walkers and canes. I wanted to touch the pure whiteness of their hair. I wanted to stroke the gnarled, crooked fingers, trace the deep blue veins beneath their skin. I sat there looking at them and I'm going to say this true, I didn't want to get old. I didn't want to be them.
So I said, "So don't be. You are young and free. You've got time. Stop wasting it being afraid. Stop wasting it waiting. Go out and be."
And I told myself that no, it isn't that I don't want to be them. It's that I don't want to be the old woman who now is looking over her life and asking, "Why didn't I learn to play violin when I wished to? Why didn't I raise a horse when I was young and strong? Why didn't go to Australia before my body became too tired to travel? Why weren't you more kind to that person who needed you? Why didn't you get up to see that sunrise when you had the chance? Whywhywhy?"
So I told myself, "It's regrets you fear." And I was right.
I don't want regrets to come make a home on my doorstep when I can no longer leave the house. I want stories to tell and memories to relive. I want something to hold onto when I become so sad because my feet can't run any more, or my hands can't knit, or my eyes grow dim.
Regrets won't get a home on my doorstep when I'm alone at 80. Regrets will not become my companions.
So I'm gonna do this:
- remember that yes, bad things happen. But I'm gonna be the good
- I'm gonna look conflict in the face instead of skirt around the edge of it
- I'm gonna do what I've always wanted to do instead of just wishing it
- I'm not gonna wait, I'm gonna go out and let life happen to me
- I'm gonna make life
- I'm gonna leave pretty pieces, even if they aren't perfect, and leave places a little better than they were before
- I'm gonna stop focusing on myself and more on making the world prettier
- There is no time for waiting, I don't want to leave holes, I want to leave pieces of me
- I'm gonna write about stoves that don't work and sunburns, rain that may have ruined hay, empty prairies and lost loves
- I'm gonna be
You shouldn't just wait. You should be. Because "living for tomorrow only takes away today."
Maybe this became a bit real here that end?
Maybe it's a bit pretty. Maybe.
Maybe it will make you smile.
Maybe it will make its mark.
But there's no maybes when I leave off and say,
PS I have discovered the purpose of our dying stove in this post:
Don't be an old stove finally protesting at the end of his life against the way he has lived it.