Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shifting Focus

I'm at the laundromat (again) engaged in a study of human behavior, and why wars break out when resources are scarce.  Not really. Well, sort of.  Our washer has been on the fritz for about 6 weeks, and I am not terribly mechanically inclined (which wouldn't be a big deal except that I can't find an owner's manual, either in our house or online, and since I am not terribly mechanically inclined, I need diagrams and drawings for such thing), and Doug hasn't fixed it yet, so I'm trying to get the laundry done before another busy weekend.  But to do all the laundry for six people (and it hasn't even been a full week yet) I need five washing machines, minimum.  Another woman got here at the same time as me and promptly filled up four of them.  Two are broken.  That leaves me with three.  Which means that in order to get all my laundry done tonight, I'm going to have to stay here twice as long as I planned.  And even though logically I know better, some part of me was convinced that she must be a horrible, horrible human being and I wanted to throw all her wet laundry on the floor and take her washers for myself.  Not really.  Well, sort of.  Just a teeny, tiny part of me.  It might've gotten bigger when I realized two of her loads were on a pre-soak.

I'm tired.  A couple of the kids had check ups and shots this morning at 8, and then story/craft time at the library at 10:30, then home for lunch and chores, and then a couple of hours at the pool, where of course I got sunburned.  It was only 65* and partly cloudy, so I forgot to put sunscreen on everyone.  Rookie mistake, Becky.  You know better.  Then home to make dinner and do a few more chores, then off the the laundromat, which I find terribly annoying.  And, well, to be frank, its just been a long damn year.  The longness and the damnedness of it has sort of all settled on me this week:  I've found myself lethargic and demotivated.  And when I'm lethargic and demotivated, it tends to make me angry.  I don't do well with low-productivity, at least as I define it.  Today brought more fun news.  I'm tired.

So I realized, just about the time the washing-maching-stealing-lady left--LEFT--while her clothes were washing and I had a golden opportunity to throw her wet clothes on the folding table and claim the washers for Clarkdom, that maybe my focus is a little off.

Today, there has been much to be grateful for.  After a week of cold rain, the big blue skies full of impossibly white cumulus clouds--the sky I missed so much during our years in California--was back to its full glory, and the house was warm again. We met the pediatrician at the office we go to for the first time this morning (we usually see the NP), and he was a great fit for Dylan.  My kids are ridiculously healthy, and have delightfully boring personal and family health histories.  They all handle shots like CIA agents who've been trained to withstand Chinese interrogations.  The library in our little town puts together a wonderful summer reading program for the kids.  Despite the fact that some of them are paid very little and the rest of them aren't paid at all, they seem to genuinely love reading to and interacting with the kids and planning the activities.  We got to spend a couple of hours playing in a heated pool, with the older kids going down slides and off the diving board, and the little girls hanging out with me, jumping and trying to swim.  Everybody laughed a lot.

And then when I got here, as I was making my way toward the steps and the door with three loads of laundry in my arms, an older man standing outside the bar next door put down his cigarette and jogged over to open the door for me. With a great big smile.  He didn't have to do that.  A lot of people wouldn't have even noticed.  Or maybe a lot of them would.  I think that sometimes we don't give our fellow human beings enough credit.  I really think most people try to be good and decent.  I think people would probably smile more if I looked them in the eye more.

Its been really quite a wonderful day.  I wish I had noticed sooner. I've had a lot of really wonderful days, and parts of days, and moments this year.  I need to be better at writing them down.

Because gratitude gives me peace and makes me happy.  Gratitude and service are the only successful antidotes I've ever found to frustration, impatience, or--God forbid--self pity.

I'm sitting next to a wall of picture windows.  The sun is shining, the sky is a perfect baby blue, and I'm alone, all quiet save for the hum of washing machines.  That's not such a bad way to spend an evening, after all.

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