Beginner's Heart

the author's

the author’s

In the aftermath of Christmas, I have time to appreciate. The hectic nature of a blended family Christmas —  two family dinners, juggling move-ins & move-outs, coordinating presents for the shared grandson,  not to mention travel & the ubiquitous winter viruses — means that Christmas is almost a blur.  Certainly there are moments my grandson climbing into a bag to reach for a present, but for the most part I have to work consciously (& conscientiously!) to take it all in. To process.

Today, however, I had time to enjoy the pies I made yesterday. Time to watch my grandson build ‘green bobots’ to whack w/ his light sabre. Time to sleep in, even! And best of all, time w/ just him, as my DIL spent time w/ her family, and my sons went to a movie w/ my beloved.



So my grandson & I read a book. At least we started out reading a book. But very quickly Trin had questions about eggs, and whether only chickens came from eggs (his contention). Since one of his favourite lullabies is ‘Mockingbird,’ we got out the trusty iPad and looked up mockingbirds. We identified mommy mockingbirds, daddy mockingbirds (notable for their fierce sharp claws, to fend off ‘bad birds’ from the baby mockingbirds), fledglings, eggs, & a nest. Then on to crows.

Crows fascinate Trin. They’re quite common in his neighbourhood, and I often call back to them as they fly over, talking among themselves. I adore them, and we spent almost an hour cruising the ‘net, looking up bird facts. Yesterday this would have been impossible.

via google

via google

But today? The sands of time ran a bit more slowly, thankfully. And I’m coming to realise more & more that time lies at the tangled heart-knot of most dilemmas.  There isn’t ‘time to listen,’ I hear. Or ‘time to discuss all this.’ Or ‘time to research the issues.’ Because we don’t make it. Or take it.

Time isn’t something in nearly as short supply as we pretend, a fact that eluded me while I was working. And yes: I understand that it seems facile for me to say I’ve shifted priorities when in fact I actually have more time. But my priorities have shifted. Whereas before I felt I had to devote my out-of-work time to becoming a better worker, now my time is spent trying to become a better person. They aren’t necessarily interchangeable, although they often overlap.

These days, I am gentler with myself, recognizing that if I can’t forgive myself I’m not going to do very well forgiving folks I don’t like nearly as well. 😉

via google

via google

I also volunteer several hours a week — working in the arts & humanities, areas I  am profoundly committed to. I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, but I have spent a great deal more time w/ family, my number one priority. And of course there have been the usual out-of-left-field tragedies, emergencies, and ‘situations.’ Each of which has called for time, something I could not have given 3+ years ago.

So as the year winds down, I’m grateful for the time to look up bird eggs, and trace a path from mockingbirds to crows to robins to bluebirds. From Richard Scarry to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. From years spent teaching ‘authentic research’ to doing it. With a 2 1/2-year-old on my lap.

I’m grateful for the time to enjoy what I work at, and the time to make better choices for my present. Most of all? I’m grateful for the reminder, today, of what’s important. And it has far more to do w/ crows and mockingbirds than even making pies.

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