Our lives are quite busy most of the time. Not much time for sitting still unless it is forced upon us, like when you have to be completely still for an MRI. I am struck by the thought of how very little time is spent being still and listening to one’s own thoughts. I did this during a recent MRI. Through the first round of brain pictures, the technician did not plug my headphones in and I was forced to think of things to distract my body and mind from all the clunking and shrieking going on inside the tube. Some people freak out at the thought of this confinement. Even without any official claustrophobia I felt a little twitchy. I have decided that spending small amounts of time on one’s own thoughts is enough. If I could only focus on happy things that would be grand, but the noise in my head about applying for jobs, not feeling qualified for anything but chief laundress and poet (not very lucrative), what I’m going to make for dinner after spending two hours with a child that desperately needs help with homework, wondering if I’ll have time to take a walk for exercise to stay healthy/lose weight/fight my high cholesterol.... In this day of techno-bombardment, infotainment, nonstop news and analysis, our thoughts take a beating and sometimes I use the rest of the world’s misery to help me drown out some of my own. The noise of the mundane, perpetual neuroses that drone on in my ears is too much to take sometimes. Other times my own mess is quite preferable to the tumult of the world’s chaos. Why can’t everything just be still for a moment?
My 85 year old mother has more stillness now than she’s ever had in her life. It sounds like it might be nice but it isn’t really. She played basketball into her forties, rode roller coasters into her fifties, wore high-heeled shoes into her sixties. She is still keeping house after living in the same house over 50 years. She knows every square inch of it and could easily get around blindfolded. She can hear the dust land. Dirt and trash set off a sonar-like sensor that drives her crazy because she wants to make it all go away. Her arthritis keeps her from being able to do the deep dark cleaning she used to do, but by golly her house is far cleaner than most and she does what she can everyday. Use it or lose it. Doing something is far better than doing nothing when your choices get reduced by what life throws at you. Don’t dare try to do any of it for her though or she might rip you a new one...Aging hurts. Dust hurts when you can’t do anything about it. Your knees my not let you kneel, or you hands may not have the strength to scrub. You can feel the dust falling on you, around you and after cataract surgery with the lens replacement you can see it all better than you ever could. How maddening.
No one wants the dust to settle. Not really. Our usefulness gives us purpose. Sometimes the more challenges we face, the harder we try to prove we can still jump the hurdles, in full make-up and high heels.