Sunlight dapples leopard print on the over-long grass. Shadows dance between the blades, a spontaneous game of hide and seek as they play with the bugs and birds and morningness. A cool gust lifts the dew for a moment – just long enough for the sun to touch it with his brush of magic. Solar sorcery vapourises the tiny water drops. A soft, otherworldly cloud hovers just above the earth, watering the ground that gave it life.
Mist creeps in on kitten feet. Indolent as a tom cat, it crawls onto my car, curls up, and takes a nap. The windscreen wipers cannot budge the lazy foggy feline – just damp enough that I cannot see; too dry to let the wiper blades glide across the glass.
The early morning is a cotton wool cocoon, cosseting me close in a hazy hug. Every sound is dampened by the drifting dew. The artificial quiet is a balm to my crowded senses.
Distant dogs celebrate the joy of being alive. A postman! Let’s greet him! A monkey! Let’s chase him! Cars! Let’s catch them! Dogs! Let’s call them! Every moment of being is joy and energy for them, and they waste no time in declaring it to the world. Their barking is a rhythmic staccato, just far enough from my window to act as a helpful metronome, propelling the day towards its crescendo.
In my office, there’s no sound but the dependable ticking of the clock, and my favourite sound of all: fingers tapping the keyboard. Let’s write some words!
Actually, my favourite sound is the sweet voices of my darling girls. Their laughter is the music of angels, the birth of fairies, the joy of life itself. Exuberant and unrestrained in the fresh innocence of childhood, it fills the hidden corners of the soul with vigour and happiness. Who can help but smile in the face of such unabashed enjoyment of being?
Their soft whispers in the night, giggling after hours, sharing deepest secrets, telling stories, imagining universes far from ours in every possible way. Their sweet trust as they crawl into bed with me after a scary dream. Their fiery outrage as they stand their ground, defining their personal boundaries, defending what they believe. The trust with which they share their thoughts and ideas – hoping for acceptance, understanding. Patiently conceding when we’re too busy. Always waiting for us to put down the phone, close the laptop, and listen. I am unworthy of their trust and patience and infinite forgiveness. I squander precious moments and miss out the big things with the small.
What would my life be like if I had only a year to live? Just 365 short days. What things would I do, and what would I stop? Yes, we still need to eat. But working an extra minute when I could be laughing with an angel – is that a worthy trade?
Really, I only have about 2000 weekends left. How will I spend them? If I stop worrying about the legacy I will LEAVE, and start thinking about each moment that I miss, what really matters then? Is it possible to meet deadlines AND play with children? Is it simply a matter of more realistic deadlines? Yes, I believe it is.
I need to start right now. I need to unpack my To Do list, break it down even further, and email each person on that list an honest and realistic explanation for the delay, and expected delivery date. And I need to keep those.
When that is done, I need to stop working every hour I’m awake, and start investing in my children. I think I’ll start with long walks in the bush, and leisurely afternoons painting. Maybe a day or two at the beach would suit, as well.
Yes, I think that is the solution. Trying with all my might to fit in another ten minutes here and there; trying so very hard to “just get through this lot” before I change my life: none of that is working. I am exhausted, demoralised, self-destructive and, frankly, fat. I feel I “deserve” treats for working so hard, and I resent every single impingement on my time. That changes today. Here. Now.