As large swaths of New England deal with the blizzard today, some of the sound bytes I hear from city and state officials are urging people to remember what’s important, and what’s not. Something I try to touch on often here in my blog, and in my own life. “Don’t risk your life.” “Stay at home.” “Don’t shovel if you are elderly.” “Check on your neighbors.” “This is not a time for corporate america to be cheapskates” and the like, all comments reflecting that, at least when it’s a state of emergency, you should take care of yourself, value your life, value the life of your neighbor. Put your own interests and health above getting to a job in battling something which you cannot control. Good advice, that.
I try to remember what’s important. Though it’s extremely inconvenient for someone who works downtown, I participated yesterday as mystery reader at my son’s school. I did this in the fall and it was a lot of fun. Back then, I stayed for lunch with the kids and they loved talking with me and asking me questions. When I arrived yesterday, one of the girls came right up to me and said, “I remember you from last time! Will you save me a seat next to you at lunch?” It only took me 30 years to get girls to want to sit with me at lunch, ha. I couldn’t stay for lunch, it was too busy a day at work, and they had recess first anyway. I plopped right down in the special chair and started to read the book I brought. The teacher said that was the most quiet and attentive they’ve been for Mystery Reader that she can recall. Yes, I command you to listen to me – sometimes a theater background helps in unexpected ways.
My kid seemed less than thrilled to see me. I think it’s embarrassment, but it’s hard for me to read him sometimes, especially around other kids, as he’s conscious of them watching him. “I knew it was you,” he said somewhat disdainfully, when I tried to greet him. He didn’t even say goodbye when I left. I emailed the teacher and said if it embarrasses him or bugs him, I won’t make a return visit, as it’s hard enough to get away from work for this time, and she said oh no, he was all smiles when I asked him about it later in the day, and the kids were all talking about how much they enjoyed you coming to read, him included. I think I’m making memories for him that will cement that I was there for him, even when he didn’t expect it, even if he doesn’t see me every night. All I can do is my best, and hope it’s the right thing, an important thing.
My aunt survived a delicate and complex surgery to remove a brain tumor, with better than expected results. She’s not really my aunt anymore so perhaps a thank you card, but I won’t get to see her, to help with her recovery, bring a dish, extend a hug. But it’s the right thing to let her know I’m thinking of her. And of a friend who continues to hang on tenuously to live in California, a card will go out to him too. Important things.
A couple I’m friends with is having twins. But they don’t live here anymore. I may never see those babies. Hell, a good number of friends who live right here in Cleveland have babies I’ve rarely to never seen. Life intervenes. Everyone is always so busy. I am also busy. I still haven’t done anything about the damned PTA dinners in March. March! So soon! Important?
Long and complex discussions about music that make my heart happy and my head full. Connecting with old friends, which is like the joy of unearthing an old toy you used to love from a box you forgot was in the closet.
All of these are more important than what the stock market is doing today, or whether or not I got that stain out of the rug, or that the scale has bounced up a couple of pounds.
It’s hard, finding the balance. So many people I am close to are physically so far away, I rarely see them. Thousands of miles separate us. I’m grateful for social media, for advents of free long distance and things like video chat, though I can scarcely stand to look at myself on such a thing, but it’s not the same as the human, physical connection. We all need that. That’s important, too.