I hear the tick tock of an invisible clock, and at times, it’s nearly audible. When I’m nursing my baby, and she decides to turn meal time into play time, I hear the ticking, telling me that there are three people waiting for me to return their calls and emails. When I’m checking my newsfeed on Facebook and take a moment to “like” my friend’s photo of her adorable, chunky toddler playing with his new tractor, I hear the clock ticking, tying strings to the index fingers of my mind, reminding me of the stack of homework and bills atop my desk. When I’m reading poems by T.S. Eliot (which, by the way, I’m still proposing be removed from the list of American classics), I hear the clock ticking, reminding me of the stack of laundry waiting to be folded.
The clock is always ticking. It never stops. At times, I worry that I’ll just jump ship like Captain Hook, right into that crafty crocodile’s open mouth, giving up on the idea of even halfway managing to get anything done.
Nothing against crocodiles, but I’d honestly like to slit that crocodile’s throat, yank out the ticking clock, and smash it on the plank into millions of tiny, unrecognizable pieces.
But time doesn’t work that way. And neither does my mind.
I’ve always had a keen–probably overly keen–awareness of time. I’ve even written about it before. At times, it serves a beneficial purpose in my life. It keeps me on track. It helps me accomplish tasks. It motivates me to arrive promptly and finish work ahead of schedule. It reminds me of the great chasm between our tiny little lives on earth and eternity.
But every asset can be a defect if I let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction. And after having a baby, I have noticed the tick tock growing louder and louder and louder. I have allowed the pendulum to swing way too far in the direction of defective for me.
My very wise mentor reminded me last week that God will never give me more than I can handle, but that I will give myself more than I can handle every single time.
That wasn’t the touchy feely, fairy godmother type of reminder I was hoping to receive, but it was the truth.
All I’ve been given each day is one day. In fact, I don’t even know for certain that I will live past 10:09 a.m., March 21, 2013. All I know is that I’m here, right now. My daughter is here, right now, sleeping peacefully in her crib during her nap (which hopefully lasts until I finish writing this post). My husband is here, quietly crunching numbers on his computer and drinking his coffee.
Yes, there are crumbs on my marble counter tops. Yes, there is an embarrassing collection of bark, leaves, and clods of dirt in my living room floor, thanks to our wood-burning stove. Yes, my collection of literature for my upcoming comprehensive exam for my Master’s degree lies next to me, waiting to be opened and reviewed (again). And yes, post-it notes reminding me of things to order, bills to pay, dates to prepare for, and topics to write about are slowly taking over my once-tidy bulletin board, having spread from a smidgen of hot pink to a blinding mass of fluorescent mess.
Yesterday, as my daughter performed a cacophony of coos and impressive wrestling and gymnastics moves while halfheartedly nursing, the clock ticked.
And I heard a Still Small Voice.
“Just enjoy her.”
So I did.
I remembered a note stuck to my bulletin board (still visible despite the mess of bright pink post-its). On it are two phrases, both phrases whispered to me during a meditation exercise at a women’s conference a few years ago.
Let me silence the clock today. Let me drown that crocodile (or slit its throat–whatever works) that keeps lurking around, encircling my mind.
Let me look at my daughter’s ever-changing face as I hold her in my hands.
Let me listen closely to what matters–the steady, quiet ticking of her tiny, growing heart.