My calendar's out of date. Time to go get a new one. Usually this task is done by the end of December - several times! But this year I'll be finding what's left in the stores after the first of the year. I don't much like "The Kitchen Calendar" I've had this past year either. It got boring. Something richly evocative - huge heaps of fruit or flowers or something. I want something like that this year.
Calendars are a big deal for me. In front of me, on the bulletin board behind the computer screen, is the 2007 monthly calendar to write on, the birthday calendar where the page is flipped each month but there is no year on it so it's a "perpetual" one, and the church calendar with the holy days and such. Three. Three kinds of calendars, just at this one desk - and one in my purse. There used to be calendars all over the house, but for some reason there are only these three left. I wonder if I only mark the passage of the days when I'm right here? Hm. Perhaps since there are no kids in the bedrooms upstairs, I don't feel any need to keep the passage of time in front of their eyes? Or, in front of my eyes as they move past the pages?
Anyway, I'm down to just the one annual calendar. Just me. My priorities, and the obligations I choose, and my own daily awarenesses.
And that's what I'm doing for my new year. I'm prioritizing for a new life. These aren't resolutions - I'm not filling in a new calendar this year with things I've decided to do.
This is just awareness of the facts. There are no kids thundering up and down the stairs in the middle of the house, and there are no calendars in every bedroom. No reason for me to wait any longer to arrange a guest room - the previous occupant has vacated the premises (and is insistently demanding the delivery of his sack-of-denim futon mattress for a "couch" in his new place - he's told each person individually that this needs to happen right away, in the hopes that one of us will make it happen). This year I have no need to plan and supervise school work. No deadlines at all that don't originate with me.
And now I find within myself a very interesting, unforeseen response to the sorts of things that are and aren't written on my calendars now. It's true that there are occasional echoes of a kind of grieving or longing. It still (almost) seems like I should still be looking at curriculum catalogs or filling out goals for the second part of the school year.
But I know that this is a completely different life now. I had that time - those babies - that schooling and playing and laughing and yelling and listening and worrying - and hustling them out the door to play because "mommy's ears are completely full and no more words can fit right now." I had the Halloween costumes and the red felt Christmas stockings for the entire village of stuffed animals. Then I had the night time clock watching after the driver licenses.
I had all that. I'm glad I did. I'm grateful.
And now I have this.
Now I have this... but I also have all the skills and experiences and perspectives and ideas and experiments that went along with those other times. The times passed by, but it turns out that I got to keep my perspective and take it with me, to be penciled in at will whenever I want.
I have begun to see the orderly squares on the square pages of the calendars in a whole new way. I'm not looking around for things to write in the squares anymore. Sometimes I have to, of course. But I'm not itching to fill them in - or wondering what is supposed to be there. Empty squares make me happy!
It took me a long time - and maybe I had to do it the other way first. But everything's different now. Life's not scripted. And it's not a monologue. It's Improv. You have to pay attention to what's going on and respond to that. You have to stay awake. You have to be able to tell the difference between what's really going on and what people think is going on, and you have to be able to play with it - on purpose. The silences and spaces in the conversation - the days without necessities - they're good. You have to be okay with blank squares on a calendar. Or, I should say, I've learned to be okay with them - I've started to love the blank squares in a calendar.