"Life doesn't know what it will be until it notices what it has become."
~ Margaret J. Wheatley
Over the years, I have reread a deceptively simple book and each time I have been struck with its relevancy to my life at that point in time. Is this what makes a book a classic?
The book, A Simpler Way, is one of the 18 books that I store on a special shelf to remind me of the authors who have most shaped my personal perspective. I picked it up in a bookstore in the late '90's when I was looking for a book to share with my staff at an upcoming meeting and didn't have a lot of time to prepare for. The title, the chapter headings, the quotes, the length - only 101 pages - and especially the presence of a lot of white space and photographs promised as easy read. Wrong! I found myself reading and rereading paragraphs, even single lines, taken with the novelty of her ideas and the almost poetic, meditative style of her writing.
I picked it up again this morning, looking for something inspirational to read this coming week when we will be in California, hoping to help a dear friend, reeling from the unexpected death of her partner, her love, her life's companion. And this line, "Life doesn't know what it will be until it notices what it has become," was all it took for me to make my choice.
This line was all it took to finally sit down and create this post, the first in almost six months. I didn't set out six months ago to take a hiatus from writing. I had, in fact, several ideas for the upcoming weeks. Then, as that other quote goes, life happened while I was busy making other plans. The desert heat descended upon us. I developed a vexing condition in my eyes that lingered well into autumn. A trip didn't turn out as I had planned - etc., etc. Events that I wasn't in the mood to write about, reluctant to complain or simply not ready or willing to air publicly. In short, life happened. And in the process, it has taken on a shape and texture I didn't notice until quite recently.
I haven't moved. I haven't lost those 10 pounds. I have the same car and enjoy the same music and TV shows and eat at the same restaurants. But - for the first time in many, many years, I am not writing elaborate goals for the coming year. I have committed to three projects that I want to pursue, rather than goals I think I should pursue. I'm choosing not to finish a book I'm not enjoying even if everyone else did, have opted out of activities I wasn't enjoying, saying no with less deliberation. I'm watching The Wizard of Oz or An American in Paris or The Princess Bride for the 20th time - guilt-free. I'm learning about football rather than just tolerating it, even finding the computer an interesting resource rather than just a
necessary nuisance. I'm sketching every day, my journals evolving into art journals, filled with doodles and drawing and fancy lettering, and I actually believe I'm creative. I'm finally, finally, learning to take each day as it comes, with all its challenges and all its gifts.
I suspect I am evolving my own definition of aging artfully, an intention I declared here months ago. I look forward to noticing more, to sharing more, to inviting you to share with me.