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Forced to stop and think

I am caught in what for me is a most unusual predicament: what will I do today and tomorrow? My time is usually scheduled well in advance. So, when I get up in the morning, all I have to do is follow the calendar in my computer. If I do have a gap in my day, I have plenty to do just keeping the maintenance of home and person in tow. I don’t have to think about what to do next. But today, this day, that is not the case.
My sister and her husband were to come for a week-long visit. They have not been to see me for some time, and I have been very excited about their arrival. In fact, their visit has been my motivation to do all kinds of things that I had put off. I blocked out a lot of time in order to prepare for their coming and to entertain them while they were here. Several weeks ago, I called my own kids and told them I had found another reason for them to stay on good terms with each other: motivation to do ‘spring housecleaning.’
Corners that harbored all sorts of inappropriate things were purged. Unused stuff was hauled to the Goodwill store. Rooms were re-arranged for my guests to use. Purchases were made that only happen during ‘special times.’ Friends were alerted to their visit and invited to drop in to meet them.
But, my brother-in-law called this morning to say they would not be coming as my sister had become ill. And, now, here I am after my sister’s sad cancellation with no plans in the works. I know I should use this time to catch up on office work that I had put off during the company prep time, but I don’t seem to have the mindset to pull that off right now. I got bold this morning and made a few phone calls looking for things ‘I just had to do.’ But, alas, everyone I called was already engaged in the ‘have to do’ of their own lives: kids, laundry, meetings.
I don’t seem to feel like ‘just relaxing.’ I am geared up for big action with groceries in the refrigerator.
I now have a better idea why there is such a demand for the many listings of social activities on the Internet. It started me thinking about my own lifestyle. How would I fill my hours if I lived in an apartment with few floors to vacuum and no yard to tend? What if I had never had a family with the responsibilities and joys of children and parents? What if I weren’t energized by community events and programs? What would I do if I didn’t find stimulation in art production or presentations? How would I have filled my days if crowds frightened me or physical conditions limited my mobility? And what would I use as material for my newspaper column if I didn’t have these questions?
It is amazing how a disruption in our regular schedules allows us to stop for a while and look at ourselves and our world in a new light. Winter is not a bad time of year for that kind of an appraisal. I began to realize that I have continued with the kind of life I maintained in previous years and that, maybe, parts of it didn’t work today.
We do have choices in this world. I need to reach out to new friends and new activities. I am not a young chick, but I still have some years ahead. It is a good moment for me to lay out my activities, my capacities and my dreams, to see where they mesh and where they really don’t. It would be too bad to wake up one morning and find that life was about over and that I hadn’t led the life I wanted to, but simply followed whatever came my way.
I pray my sister gets well and comes for her visit. I hope that my home is still ready and clean. However, even if it isn’t, I intend for her to find me a wiser sister that is sharing and doing the best she can in the world in which she finds herself today. My new personal motto is going to be ‘don’t drift ‘ shift.’

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