I wake, I rise, I read, I pray; another day begins and before I barely even fill my lungs with mornings’ first breath my “to do” list beckons me to start crossing. Folding, tidying, wiping, washing, searching, finding; more and more tasks added to the list before the former are even begun. Morning priorities become afternoon postponements, and errands take precedence over intended productivity. Circular routes driven all over town, as round and round the stops keep multiplying in frenzied fashion. The sun rises, reaches, peaks, then suddenly sets, and just as quickly as it came the day draws to a close and it seems the next has nearly dawned.
I catch my breath. I breathe. I pause. Pause. My first of the day, and I’ve gone with such speed that it seems I’m still going, still moving forward though my feet are finally firmly planted in one spot. Like a child darting full force at the signal of their peers then suddenly stopping in their tracks as green light now turns to red. Staggering, wobbling, squealing as they flap and circle their arms to keep themselves from tipping forward, limbs fighting to work in concert with each other to stay aright. Who knew that this childhood game would all but prepare us for the grown up version of keeping up with our lives.
In one instant we go from children playing house to buying a house, from dress up to who’s best dressed, from baby dolls and polly pockets to bringing baby home. Life moves so fast, too fast, and yet so slow at the same time; and here I am somewhere stuck in the middle.
Though the day has sped along and the hours rapidly past, there are still some things which demand a certain slowness, a kind of savoring of moments. All but blocks from the most spectacular sunset view, I take time to walk to my favorite overlook; a ritual I will not lose in the chaos of the daily race.
I round the corner and my breath is taken away, yet this time not from frantic exhaustion. At the edge of this jut I stand and linger. I linger and I contemplate the sentiment that Otis Redding had when he wrote his dockside hit.
Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watchin’ the ships roll in
Then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooo
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
I take deep breaths, full in and emptied out, and I open my eyes to find my own visage of a ship rolling by in real time. Though it’s too far to see clearly, I can only imagine the ripples it makes as it steams on through, making its way across the Sound. If time is represented by that agenda driven ship, then I am the piece of driftwood that is bound to be met in its passage, tossed and jarred by the effects of its wake, constantly driven farther away from the streamlined path that is forged all around me. It seems each passing day I find myself farther and farther from the course that everyone around me seems to be traveling. Unlike the targeted path of my peers, the direction I take seems to be subject to each toss and turn of the various waves of life that come my way. My ambitious ten year plan seems tens of years removed from where I am now, yet, I am strangely content with how my late 20’s have unfolded.
Unlike friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and anyone else within range of my age, I seem to be drifting away from the standard series of events that most aim to complete in some manner of order. While many are now gaining momentum in their stages of life, whether settling into career or family, I am slowly stretching this extended season of mine.
At 26 I don’t have much to show for my efforts in life. A degree that collects dust in one of the few boxes of my possessions, a handful of failed relationships, none of which promised happiness or a future I would have wanted, a savings account that has risen and dwindled as living in the moment and then paying for the repercussions of those moments have demanded a pretty penny, and a lengthy resume filled with work experiences that are about as varied as the colorful striations in the night sky I gaze upon.
I pretend to move along at the speed of those around me, but in all honesty, I’m nowhere near the current that most are being carried by. Sometimes it seems I’m in a gyre somewhere in the middle of all of these directed swirlings, going round in round in a circle and never progressing outside of the circumference that my life has made thus far, and at times oddly seeming to be shrinking rather than expanding its radius. But to tell the absolute truth, I find my little whirlpool of life to be rather reassuring amidst the waves everyone else seem to ride.
Demanding babies, demanding jobs, demanding relationships, demanding, demanding, demanding. It seems there is always something or someone demanding our attentions away from the simple sweetness of life. And in my little circle of demands, there is only myself to care for at the end of the day, and though I may often be all on my own I’ve grown accustomed to being alone and I desperately crave that space. I struggle because I know this shouldn’t be normal, this shouldn’t be what I want. But something deep within me keeps calling to a different path; a path where status quo is thrown out and I live for something higher than milestones, something less conventional than what is being sold to those around me. What this might be, I scarcely can picture, yet I know that unlike the melody that Otis croons, I cannot allow myself to remain the same. I know that I must keep trusting, keep pushing out into deeper waters, keep living in tune with the song that the Maker arranges for me, however that looks or may match up with those around me.
But for now I fight against the tide, I fight to keep from being washed up on the shore. I paddle against the current, and I fight the repetitive nature of this life.
And the brilliant sunset turns to haze and I come to reality once again and realize that no matter how far off course I might have drifted, no matter how many mile markers I’ve watched others reach and pass, none of this life has been wasted time.
I’m sitting on the dock of my bay, collecting the moments, relishing time.