Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pulling Focus

In film, to "pull focus" means to slowly adjust the focus of the camera lens to get the very sharpest clarity of image. In life, as well as in film, this can be an incredibly valuable thing to do. All too often, I'm going around like a junior dervish (you know, whirling, but without the deep-seated calm of an actual whirling dervish for whom the spinning is a form of worship), just rushing from one thing to another without a clear idea of why I'm doing these things, aside from some sort of half-hearted idea that it's just the Way Things Are to have my hair be on fire. It's an excellent way to get confused about what's important and what just looks like it is. Really - take some time to pull focus and slow down enough to get true clarity of situations. The big stuff might not be what you're looking at.

Since I've started "going French, " I have to admit that I have more quiet moments, but I'm still a dervish, junior grade sometimes. And that's okay, too. It's where I am right now and I must be there for a reason, or I'd be somewhere else. Right? Right. So let me tell you a story about how I got yanked out of my whirling today.

It's been a wild few weeks here at the Nest. Busy, busy, busy. Then I caught a cold and was laid low for a few days, which put me behind at work. Work got stressful, mostly for reasons that had nothing to do with me and my ego reared its wart-covered head to whine, "Me! Me! Mememe!!!" Finances are tight here at the end of the month, I have several projects all vying for my attention, then FryDaddy caught the cold I had just gotten over, so he's down and needs some babying (we all like babying when we're just a little sick, I think). It's been rainy lately, so mud and leaves have been tracked in from outside, the critters are shedding, AHHHHH!!

As I'm whirling from one chore to another (bringing out the Spooky-dog's food bowl while muttering my list of Things to Do to myself, actually), there's an old man standing in my driveway. He comes around from time to time asking everyone on the street if we need any yard work done. We've had him do stuff before; he does a great job. And yes, I'd love to have someone do some raking from the windstorms last week, but payday isn't until Monday, so no dice. I snap, "Nope. Nothing today, but we'll use you again" and keep going. He can be persistent, and (as I've mentioned) I'm Very Busy, so I yell "Another time" over my shoulder and keep moving. I realize that I've been rude, but really - I'm Very Busy.

Still, it bugs me a little, so after I get the food bowl to Spooky's pen, I come back around the corner, determined to be a bit nicer. He's still in my driveway, and I walk up to him and say, "I didn't mean to be rude, but my husband's sick, my house is a mess, and I don't have any money until Monday, so really - there's nothing today."

Think about how much guts it took for him to say what came next. "Ma'am, I'll do the yard for a sandwich."

I. Just. Stopped. I've been hungry, sure. I've even skipped a meal before, generally in my student days so I'd have money for more fun things. I've never not eaten because I had no other way to feed myself than by doing chores for a stranger. Oh, I know. Maybe he was lying. Try to take a kinder view of things, okay? I've got a hungry man in my driveway. And that's what it comes down to. What am I made of? What am I actually going to do when faced with this situation? Who am I? And if you don't think this was "pulling focus," go back to the start of this post and begin again.

I reassured him that the yard was fine and that we'd need him next weekend, I told him I'd be back in a minute, then I marched my over-privileged self into the kitchen, made two ham and cheese sandwiches, added chips, an orange, a Cheerwine, and a healthy portion of the peanut M&Ms I'd bought yesterday thinking FryDaddy might like them. I put everything in a bag and walked back out to the old man, who was still standing in my driveway.

Was I entertaining an angel unawares? Maybe. Was I being a gullible idiot? Maybe. But I also know I did what I would have wanted someone to do for me, if that had been me. And I know enough about the workings of this world to know that one day, that might be me. My current circumstances - the ones where I have the luxury of whining about wanting new linens, or repainting the bathroom, or kvetching about personalities at work, or my husband's near-total inability to remember that there's laundry in the dryer - are the stuff dreams are made of for plenty of people.

So I really ought to just shut up and help out more often.

Yes, I'm still behind on grading. My house is still cluttered (and furry). I worry about my bank balance and wish I was more diligent about exercising. But when faced with a challenge about who I am, I'm pretty sure I answered correctly. I very well may have "broken my penitence a hundred times," but the Divine still welcomes me and gives me another chance to Get It Right.

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