OK, I thought, nevermind the bugs, thirty minutes. That’s all I have to do. Focus Holly.
I narrowed my visual field and chose one set of shelves, telling myself that was all I needed to tackle today. I could organize one set of shelves in that time, right?
Thirty minutes later my phone played a happy, if somewhat muffled jingle from the back pocket of my jeans and I looked up to realize I had accomplished more than I set out to do. One whole wall of the pantry was neatly organized. I had a pile of recycling outside the door and a bag of trash. The children’s chairs sat in the next room awaiting their new home. Paper goods sat primly in their own corner of the space. Plastic containers, out of season kitchen equipment, disinfectants and cleaners occupied another set of shelves. Serving dishes and items for entertaining took up still another, ready for the next party. The time had whisked by and I was pleased with how much more open the pantry felt. I almost didn’t want to stop there, but I knew that if I left the job feeling that way, it would be much easier for me to pick it up again the next day.
Within a few days, the pantry was reorganized and I'd enjoyed the whole process, celebrating the product of my efforts. And that’s the secret, enjoying the process as well as the product.
But what could possibly have been enjoyable about organizing the basement pantry? I mean really, it’s the basement. The concrete floor and walls are cold. There might be spiders, or worse, those thousand-legged crawly things that jump out at you when you move stuff off the basement floor. Shiver. How is that a good time?
Well, let’s take another look at what actually happened.
First, I set a timer. I limited the amount of time I would have to spend on that particular job, on that particular day. This allowed me to quiet the voice in my head that whined about what a big job this was and kept asking me if I wouldn’t rather be reading that good book I started last night.
Limiting the time also encouraged me to focus my attention. I had to narrow my field of vision. No falling down the rabbit hole of figuring out where those children’s chairs or anything else that didn't belong were going to end up. Just pick them up and move them out of the pantry so I could reach the set of shelves I was working on.
As I focused my attention, I got fully present with what I was doing, and that is the key to enjoyment. I had all my attention centered in the process. I knew I wouldn’t finish the pantry that day. I wasn’t rushing or thinking about the future product of my efforts. I was attending to what I was doing in each present moment, flowing from one into the next, and that was really enjoyable. In fact, I’m looking forward to my next reorganization project.
Also, not a spider in sight, and the crawlees kept to themselves. 😉
The sweet peace is surprised by the loud, hooting call of a Barred Owl, and answering call from the yard next door. It is long past their bedtime. Do you suppose it is an illicit treat for them to call, questioning to each other from their beds like disobedient children? “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” The first caller dares leave its bed and fly on silent wings, off to visit its partner in crime no doubt. They keep quiet now, probably whispering clandestine owl secrets to each other in the morning light.
This is a precious moment, timeless and fleeting. Soon, the day will begin in earnest. There is work to be done after all, appointments to be kept, preparations to make. Life to be pursued with the single-minded devotion that believing in the gravity of our individual lives inspires.
Yet the breeze still carries its message, waving from treetop to treetop, rustling through the branches. “Stay with us,” it whispers, “stay.” Then all is quiet and my thoughts return to my lists and the clock, email and texts. A hummingbird appears, hovering, magic on wings, dipping into the petunias in my planters on the porch steps. Flitting from flower to flower, never landing, never lighting, an iridescent fairy creature in plain sight.
What is this magic that calls me to stay? Persuading me to allow the wonder, convincing me with the touch of a breeze softly brushing my arm. It sways me to listen for the swishing, rustling, chirping, twittering, hooting, seeming quiet of the morning, the ever-changing green surrounding me and the wings that flutter from tree to feeder and back again. It fills me with the sweetness of the rain-washed air, and I stay. For it is love made manifest, magic indeed.
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.