On Wasted Time

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JournalThe leaves on the trees outside my picture window are trembling on their branches. Every so often their trembling turns violent as a gust of wind rushes through, causing some to lose their moorings, and slender trunks to bend and sway under the wind’s pressure. The wind passes on, and the leaves go back to their simple trembling.

I am sitting on my couch, watching this post-storm settling of nature. I am wrapped in a quilt—the first of three quilts my mother has made so far for members of my family. The air in my house isn’t gusting as it is outside, but it is chilled; too cool outside to kick on the air conditioning, but too warm to switch over to the furnace. If I am very still I can hear the leaves rattling together, the music of a wind-blown forest.

But it is hard.

I am easily distracted by the turns of the washer’s cycle, the scratch of my pencil against paper, and the lingering odor of this morning’s cat mess found under Oldest Son’s bed, lying amongst his items of upmost importance, but somehow long forgotten. It has been the morning of wasted time, leaving me here on my couch wasting more time, and feeling like all this week has been, is a series of wasted time…

*****

That was my partially finished journal entry from yesterday afternoon, after spending the morning cleaning cat feces from under my son’s bed. Well, that isn’t entirely true…I still had my hour of morning peace in my basement family room, cross-legged on the couch, coffee on the end table, books, journals, and pens of various sorts piled around me. Good thing I had this luxury of quiet, because as I walked back to my oldest boys’ bedroom to wake them up at 6:30, I was engulfed in the distinct and horrendous odor of fresh cat poop. When I opened the door to their room and was hit in a second, even more nauseating wave of stink, then saw the clothes, bags, and airsoft paraphernalia scattered on the floor, I knew finding and cleaning the cat’s mess was not going to be quick or easy.

I won’t ruin your stomach with the gross details. I’m sure you can imagine. I did find it (with no help from my boys) and spent the next 20 minutes cleaning it up. Then I had to leave and take kids to school. But, rather than head on to the gym—my normal routine–I came back home and finished cleaning. And then, I stripped one son’s side of the room of all his possessions—a consequence for not taking care of what he’s been given, making the animal mess that much harder to clean. It took most of my morning.

Wasted time.

I should have been at crossfit during that time. Then, I should have been home, making a quick and healthy breakfast. Then I should have been writing—putting words to page, creating a new story, working on an old one…any kind of writing would have done, at that point.

But I wasn’t.

This has been the pattern of the last week. I should be writing…but I’m not.

I’m reorganizing the old homeschool room so every kid has a place to put his or her school supplies, hopefully cutting down on morning time squabbles:

“Wyatt, get your books off my project!”

“Hey! Who moved my papers?!”

“Where are my flashcards? J.B., stop putting your binder on top my stuff!”

Or, I’m vacuuming the kitchen floor for the fourth time after a child dropped the Corning Ware plate he was drying (five minutes before we had to walk out the door) and it crashed into tiny shards, scattering throughout the entire kitchen area, even into the next room.

Or, I have kids home from school early because it’s one of those early dismissal days.

Or, I’m at a meeting with my editor, but I wrote it in my calendar wrong and I’m there too early and so I drive home to get nothing done, only to turn around and drive back again.

This has been the pattern of my week…

Wasted time.

And at the moment of yesterday’s journal entry, all that wasted time had wrought me useless—wasting more time. It was time I could have been writing; blundering my way through another attempt at short story writing, or working through some writing exercises.

The funny thing is, when I do have time for these things, they, too, often feel like wasted time.

But what if it isn’t wasted time? Is it possible?

Time isn’t my commodity anyway. I arrogantly walk through my minutes thinking I’m in control of what I didn’t create, can’t contain, and will never be unburdened from this side of heaven.

So maybe it’s in the wasted time—the time I’m fumbling through, letting slip through my fingers, living fully in the present out of force, not choice…Maybe it is in this kind of time—this wasted time—where I will find the holy…

Journaling about trembling leaves and tree trunks bending in the wind.

Hugging the shocked, teary-eyed boy with slippery fingers and shattered glass around his feet.

Crying tears of forgiveness with the son whose heart seemed so hard until it wasn’t, and then spending time together making his bed and laughing about cat smells in the night.

 

Copyright: 2014 by Shari Dragovich

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