Friday, October 1, 2010

The Calendar Flip

Before I went to bed last night, I stood at our refrigerator and took one last good look.  This morning, I returned to the same spot and proceeded with a small ritual: the calendar flip. 

Turning over a new page on a calendar is one of those simple pleasures in life.  A wide open expanse lies ahead.  Even though these next weeks promise to be full, the calendar page is orderly.  No days have been crossed off yet.  It's a clean slate.

Contrast this with the calendar page from last month.  It's messy, much like life.  Appointments and obligations that were once pressing are now past.  Moments that I would have forgotten altogether are immortalized by my handwriting in a square inch box.  Each completed day has a slash marking the bottom right corner -- a single line that signifies that an entire day has been lived.

I used to carpool to my last job.  As I drove home one afternoon, my carpool partner pulled her planner from her bag and realized that she hadn't been keeping up.  She crossed out an entire week happily, and then commented, "I don't think I should be taking this much pleasure from scratching out these days.  This is my life!  I'm crossing out my life!"

Sometimes I feel like this.  I love crossing off days.  I look forward to the next thing, and I strain toward the next goal.  I occasionally think about selling outgrown baby gear at the next garage sale.  I envision having my toddler pottytrained.  I imagine going places without a diaper bag.  I look forward to a day when my little ones can unfasten their own seat belts, take their own baths, and tie their own shoes.

It's not bad to look forward to the future.  I just want to make sure I'm not crossing out days before I even live them.

This summer we had a few students over for dinner one evening.  To be exact, they were three football players in the midst of a grueling practice schedule, and they were hungry.  At the end of the meal, I served dessert -- generously-sized, still a tad warm, perfectly chewy brownies.  Before I could blink, I looked at one boy's plate and the brownie was gone.  I glanced up.  He wasn't even still chewing.

"Want another?"  I asked.

"Yes, please."  He replied as I handed over a huge square on a napkin.  "I think I just swallowed that last one whole.  I didn't even taste it!"

Now, I love chocolate and I could relate.  I've done it myself.  I've devoured without savoring.  I've swallowed without tasting.  In the end, it's disappointing.  You're in such a rush that you miss all the pleasure.

Contrast this with one of my friends who visited our house the very next day.  I served her one of the few remaining brownies.  She took one bite and said, "This is Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate, isn't it?"  (I had  no clue, but I checked the trash can for the empty box.  She was spot on.)

How did she know this?

She savored, not devoured.  She paid attention to the flavor.  This girl knows her chocolate. 

And then, if I recall, she ate another.

I want to live life this way.  I want to taste each day as it comes, to pinpoint its unique flavor.  Even if it's a nothing-special, mix-from-a-box type of a day, I want to savor.

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