|Happy Birthday Mr. Watts!|
I'll never forget Dad returning from a week-long seminar that prompted him to have a red light installed above his office door. The purpose, according to his management guru, was to train your workers to respect your time. Red light on? Dad's not to be interrupted. He was to take his number-crunching, customer-consulting, phone-calling time on a diet and focus, focus, focus, without interruption by well meaning employees, or casual customers all too comfortable sticking their head in with no notice just to say hey or to tell you about the fish they caught.
Three weeks into this awkward intrusion, my best friend's 5-year-old came racing through the bank lobby, and with no notice or warning bolted straight through Dad's closed-door office. Bless his heart, poor little Derrick (not at all familiar with the new 'red light' time-management proposition) yells in utmost excitement, "Mr. Eddie! Mr. Eddie! Look at the frog I caught with my own two hands!"
What followed was instant silence, as Dad's secretary, a couple of his tellers and a customer gasped a group gasp, fearing the unpredictable response to such blatant disregard from a child who never got the memo on this red light's installation or function.
Hanging up the phone, Dad steps out of his office, looks up at the "ON" red light glowing above his door... turns to his secretary and says "Mable...call the electrician and get that dang light outta here."
Moral of the story, some things just don't mesh with time management dictates...
Farming falls under this category...
One of the toughest things I've come to now cherish is how a day you think you have planned to perfection can go 180 degrees opposite on you with a change of the weather, the break of a drive belt or the sincere request by a friend for a visit. For the longest I walked around in 50 shades of guilt for times friends asked if their kids could come feed goats, or out of town guests asked to drive in for a few...Then one day it hit me: what greater compliment than kids who like you (or your kids) or friends considering this a get-away? To be clear there's always work to be done on a farm, but keep too strict a discipline and you might just miss the point of living on one.
My last few have put what little time management talents I possess to the utmost test. A former boss passed away, and a funeral I had blocked off a couple of hours for turned into a day-long reunion with friends from decades past whose lives, like my own, have now taken on new meaning...
My oldest niece married (sentimental unto itself) but given I spent my last summer begging folks to prayer along with me for a brother~unable to walk this time last year~ Well let's just say seeing him walk her down the aisle (not to mention that first dance)...times stands still in these moments.
Sure, back on the farm there were goats to sell, and hay to get in, and the last of a garden's harvest to be picked. Add to this, a part time radio gig and new business ventures make for new and serious time commitments. And the writer in me still has her projects and her deadlines. One can't ignore these things all together if you hope to eat.
But when neighbors call asking if their kids can come play, or a friend asks to bring someone out with questions about starting his own farm operation, I confess life-long habits still run my mind through a mental guilt moment as I weigh obligations against life's unknowns. My "mismanaged time" gene is still firmly in tact, hurling a guilt-dart across my brain like a shooting star. But more and more these days I let 'em fade into the perfect night sky as 9 times out of 10, the "now" of these encounters will wind up replacing any such guilt into memories and moments of raw gratitude.
My gift of the week (postponed way too long for well reasoned-out excuses of making the time) goes to my elementary school principal whose daughter found me on Facebook, and asked if she might bring her father for a visit (after more years than I care to admit here...let's just say I was 6 when I last visited HIM). For weeks we spoke of theoretical dates, never quite getting it to ink. But when she wrote to say "He's turns 85 next week" I knew this was our chance and I was flat out honored that he might want to spend this one with me.
To spend an afternoon in a state of total "now" ...reflecting on precious days past, reminiscing about changing tides of time...hearing what tributaries had channeled through both our lives since last we spoke...I can't imagine a better investment of time or use of a day... If you had told me at age 6 (when yes, I really did get sent to the principal's office) that one day I'd look back and laugh...
Well, I wouldn't have believed you then...and I'm smiling to be telling it now.
So here's to YOU, Mr. Watts ~ Happy Birthday! Thanks for spending it with me and the kids... and reminding me all over again what time and friendship and life is all about...
(Oh, and for the record...you aren't nearly so scary as I thought :)