I was always a creature of habit, deeply invested in the art of living conservatively. I try to concentrate on where I’m going, leaving the past behind. That way, if I trip, I will fall forward, and not backwards.
Because we seniors are at a greater disadvantage as it is, I always say, “If life throws you a lemon, duck!” Some old aphorisms might be outdated. They can be altered: “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” There’s a good chance you won’t remember it tomorrow, and then it won’t matter anyway.
As flighty as the human mind is, it’s a miracle more people haven’t lost it! I mean no disrespect. I am experiencing senior absentmindedness myself. For someone with a passion for writing, taking a mental note of something to pull up at a later time, while staring at a blank computer screen, being scatterbrained is debilitating.
A meaningful remark or a clever comeback, and those witty words we “should have” spoken at an opportune time, don’t always come to mind until it’s too late? Possibly the most brilliant words contrived end up in the wastebasket of the absent mind. Quoting others can enhance your own writing. One creative person can inspire another to broaden their mind, to dig deeper within him or herself, and to look at something from a different perspective.
It’s time to get a new tablet, 2-subject, college ruled, storage pockets in each divider, and I’m good to go for another six months! I get tired of reading my own words. It’s difficult to leave behind the scribbled notes, quotes, and disconnected thoughts that just didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Better to recycle and start fresh again.
I use the same tablet until every page, and some on both sides, is filled. Just so many words - some trite at second pondering, too many stale ideas, and random good stuff lost in the shuffle – are sifted through and carelessly dismissed in a rush of impatience.
I gaze at the clean slate of white, lined pages. The challenges, once tumbling with new ideas, now whither beneath a stockpile of misplaced knowledge, and energetic memories worn thin from exhausted use. Thomas Merton spoke some good advice: “Stop thinking and start looking.”
You won’t believe what just happened! The Bible story of Mary and Martha came to mind, so I left my computer and went upstairs to fetch the Bible from my library. I absently opened it up – and, I swear, the first word I saw was “Martha.” There was the story of sisters, Mary and Martha, in Luke 10: 38-42.
Jesus was preaching throughout the countryside when a woman named Martha asked Him into her home. Her sister Mary sat at Jesus feet and heard His word. Martha, the nervous Nellie, implored the Lord to bid Mary to help in the kitchen to prepare the meal. Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
I’ve often wondered how much I’ve missed in life, what I failed to experience, and all I didn’t hear or take to heart... because I was a Martha, the one who had to see that everything went smoothly, that no speck of dust or fingerprint remained, that every morsel of food was properly prepared, and that every guest was comfortable.
I said that I was always a creature of habit. That was then – this is now. I can’t say that getting sick has been a blessing, but there are many lessons to be gleaned from that.
I’ve come to realize, in the circle of life, there’s a time to be a “human doing” and a time one must embrace life’s heartfelt blessings as a “human being”...and keep pen and paper at hand for future reflection.
Janet Burns can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org