It’s been two weeks since I’ve written here. Each day I neglect to write or post a blog the likelihood that I will never post one again looms like a failure I’ve been expecting. This gets my committee going, and they are a mouthy bunch when they get a whiff of failure.
You’ve tried to blog before–like 700 times. You’re a big planner, sitting and talking and planning for hours and days on end, but doing is another thing, doing is your problem. You’re just not a doer, Bridgett. No get ‘er done for you.
It’s not that the past two weeks haven’t been busy, I think to myself. Two graduations with parties, two birthdays with parties, one First Communion with party, a short trip to visit friends, and laundry, grandchildren, weddings to plan, school-less children on couches and in beds, eating, drinking, and generally taking up space where before there were hours of silence if you don’t count the licking, scratching pugs with their scrunched up faces and their clouds of dander and flying fur.
It’s difficult to begin again. I’m more of a getting done sort of gal–on my way to some magical point in the future where all the work is done. And because I am not overly ambitious, that particular future point is most often little more than a couch, a blanket, and a good book.
How many times have I said to myself or to my husband or to my kids, “I just want to get done.”
What comes after done? And why are we in such a hurry to get there, running willy nilly as if we’re being chased by a gaping-mouthed monster who will suck us into its jaws if we slow down. And then done moves off into the future when we are so close. We never arrive. As fucking elusive as the magical isle of done is, we still run toward it. We don’t want to talk about what done really means though, do we. I’m nearly 50, and the number of funerals I attend each year increases. I went to a visitation Tuesday and a funeral on Wednesday. Done does exist, folks.
One evening a few years ago, before his father died and his mother was confined to a wheelchair, my husband visited his aging parents. His mother, Grace, was then a tiny slip of a thing, her body bowed by Parkinson’s disease. While my husband sat on the couch and talked to his dad about sports or John Wayne movies, Grace swept the floor.
At one time, Grace could have swept anyone under the rug. That woman was brilliant with a broom, a champion sweeper, a clean-floor aficionado whose son can also vacuum and sweep rings around anyone I know due to her expert tutelage. She not only kept the cleanest floors on the planet, but she taught her kids to do the same, and I am the lucky recipient of that great gift.
However, Parkinson’s Disease can really mess with one’s ability to efficiently sweep a floor. That night, Grace pushed and scooted the broom across the floor in the small kitchen of their assisted-living apartment. She shuffled, and the broom jerked in her unsteady hands. Maybe the broom hit his foot and that’s why my husband put his hand on his mother’s drawn shoulder and said, “Mom, why don’t you sit down?”
“Because I need to get done,” she said. “I want to get done.”
My husband told this story when he got home that night. It was late, our kids were in bed, heads heavy on their pillows. A cool breeze blew through the house, pulled in by the attic fan’s loud buzz. He shook his head when he repeated his mother’s words.
“I told her,” he said. “I told her, ‘Mom, you don’t really want to get done, do you? I mean, what comes after done?’”
The night my husband told me this story, I got out of bed and wrote it down. I wanted to remember.
I want to remember that.
This is what I tell the committee to get them off my ass. Fuck getting done. I’m a beginner.
I’m not the world’s best meditator, but I think I’ve finally realized that beginning again is what meditation is about. It’s not about achieving some sort of transcendent trance, but rather the act, the practice of beginning again.
Beginning is where it’s at. Beginning again is like taking a big huge breath, the sort that opens your chest so wide, you are surprised by your lungs’ capacity for air. When I’m focused on getting done, my chest is so tight I don’t know where my next breath will originate. Why in heaven’s name would I choose getting done over beginning again? Beginning again is a flower unfolding. That’s what I want.
Beginning again happens right now. It requires us to pull ourselves back to the moment at hand.
Beginning again can feel tedious, just like life. You fold the shirts, and in a day or two you fold the shirts again unless someone else does it which isn’t likely. Each night, you pull the covers down just so, crawl between the sheets, turn the fan on, and in 24 hours you do it all again. You push the broom across the damned kitchen floor and in a day or two (or an hour if you live in this house and love pugs who are at this moment humping each other on the bench outside the window) you grab the broom again because you’re never really done sweeping the floor.
But what a gift that tedium is, every moment new and ripe.
To hell with getting done. Let’s begin.