Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I thought I’d take a half hour and put a few words down, since it’s my birthday, and all that jazz. At 43 I’m feeling that long dad-spiral into birthday irrelevance. Do I feel a year older? Nay, I feel a day older. I’m late for work. And behind schedule. Rain, maybe, this week. No one will ever see this.

I was thinking about writing more. MORE! And I was thinking about the old bad and ugly failed blogs of years past. Maybe I’ll start another. Do I need to do this? Do I need an audience? Do I need anything?

On the run, words come at me and I almost always forget them all, as I pull up to the house. Word play. But today I remembered: “dad-spiral” and the idea of birthdays becoming irrelevant. And that’s what it feels like: a dad-spiral. Coffee and the news in the morning. A quick workout, every few days. The Job, day-in, day-out. Then home, shower, dinner, and then... too damn tired to do anything. Repeat, the following day.

When things go full rote at work, my mind wanders to all the stuff I’ve been wanting to do, all the obligations I never met, all those people I need to call, and how, when I get home, how I’ll tackle it all with unrelenting fervor and zeal. But when I get home, I can’t. Can’t. Too tired.

Spring is coming, and I turn to the garden. My garden, which is ever a failure. All that labor, and a 20 percent success rate. I just turn the soil, water and weed, fertilize and plant, and then abandon the weekend to the ages. Weeks later, when I get some time, I go out back and do the same thing. But sooner or later it happens: something bursts colorfully out of the ground for a few days, and if I’m lucky, I notice it. It doesn’t seem worth it.

But, as a meditation, it is. Years ago I had a friend who had a bowl of rocks on his dining room table. Smooth stones. Pebbles, really. We asked him about it.

“Every day, after everyone has left the table, I pick up a rock and roll it over in my fingers. I examine every pore and scratch. Every imperfection. I spend a minute on it. And in that minute I give it everything. Every thought goes to the rock. Everything in my head is put aside so I can focus on the rock. I think about nothing else. I sacrifice a whole minute to the rock. Then I put it back, and go about my life.”

And then we mocked him.

But here, years later, I’ve got this big bowl of rocks in my yard and I’m trying to do the same thing. And with the phone ringing and the kids screaming and the worries of the world and all the other labors and their intent demands, I try to focus on those rocks for just a bit. To keep my sanity. 

And I think I’m about halfway there.