Tuesday, July 14, 2009

on calendars and what matters

Last week I started to get a little anxious about this whole exam study thing. I looked over my lists, totaled the pages, eyeballed the allotted weeks of study, and thought about the other tasks I have to accomplish in the next four months. I've been telling people for a long time how intense this process is, but last week it finally hit me. And I closed my aching eyes and felt, okay, more than a little anxious.

The night of this realization, I walked into the kitchen and lifted the pages of the calendar to see the days and weeks and months, to get a sense of their shape, to assure myself that with discipline and a lot of support November comps would be totally possible. Flipped to the November page, my eyes scanning for Thanksgiving, and stopped at a square nearer the top, marked in my own handwriting: Grandma: 72!

Did I know when I transferred all the birthdays to this calendar that this year, Grandma's birthday would be a would-have-been? Did I know that this year, instead of sitting next to her, digging into bowls full of cake and ice cream, watching her stir the tiniest bit of cream into her coffee, I would have to celebrate the fact that she was born 72 years ago, and lived for 71 of them?

I didn't know. We don't usually know. And that was my lesson in perspective, pulling me back from the brink of hyperventilation. Of course I will buckle down and read these books, put in my 60 hours a week, keep going toward this goal. But if it comes down to it, I'll take the exams in February. If it comes down to whether I have time to have barbecues with friends, walk the summer sand, do crosswords with my husband, whisper morning prayers, and bake a German Chocolate cake on November 4, the exams can wait. Our days are mysterious and numbered. We ought to live them.

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