I took a three hour nap today. That's right. Three glorious hours, asleep, in my bed. It was awesome.
Only, I kept dreaming that I was dreaming. I hate that. If I'm going to invest the psychic energy required to come up with a complete work of entertaining fiction while I'm sleeping - and I can't even do that wide awake and hepped up on Diet Coke, for cryin' out loud - then the plot line had better involve more than me in bed saying, "Gosh. I think this is a dream." I'd nod right off if I weren't already asleep.
But that's the kind of week I'm having. I dream that I'm dreaming. I write about writing. I talk about talking. And I'm perilously close to blogging about blogging.
I think it's because September gave me the chance to consider what it means to live while you're living. My dad died. My college kids moved out. My mother and my husband both celebrated birthdays, and those are starting to stack up.
And I'm realizing, no matter how hard we try otherwise, we eventually leave the planet with a few things undone. Jennifer Love Hewett may believe her clients have a corner on the business of unfinished business, but I've got news for you, Jenny: It's piling up all around us.
At least, I think it's supposed to be.
My husband and I had dinner last night with one of my favorite people in the world. Ed Thompson was my mentor and the head of the music department when I was a student at the University of Utah a hundred years ago. For the last year or so he has been serving as the interim Associate Conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while they searched for a permanent replacement.
And for the better part of the last 25 years, he's also been one of my dearest friends.
I had heard that Ed's health had taken a scary turn a few months ago, so I asked last night what the deal was. It's his story to tell, but the upshot is he nearly joined Melinda Gordon's club. The number of little miracles that lined up to save him is significant. And I'm glad he's still around.
Ed was in Las Vegas attending a photography conference. He's like that. He spent the first many years of his life designing airplanes, putting his advanced degrees in Physics to good use. Then he decided he wanted to do the music thing. Another PhD eventually found him running things at the U of U and conducting the Utah Symphony Chorus.
And now, at 70-something, he takes pictures. Really cool ones. The new set of Christmas CDs just released by the MoTabs has a photo of his on the cover.
This is a guy who lives life while there's life to live.
And he's got me wondering if I'm doing the same. Call it a midlife crisis (that's what I called it here), call it the narcissistic meanderings of a brain that is currently fried on candy corn, call it a shamelessly transparent attempt to write about something when there really isn't a good subject at hand.
I just can't help but wonder if I'm really doing all that I could be doing with the gifts I've been given and the blessings that just pour down on me day after day.
I love to teach. So why don't I teach school? Teach college?
I love to speak, to laugh and commiserate with, and hopefully inspire, others to take on the challenges of life with a bit more confidence, a bit more optimism. A bit more faith.
So why don't I do that more regularly? Why don't I take that talent, that message to a larger audience?
I'm a pretty darn gifted musician. How come the only thing I'm doing with those abilities right now is teaching piano lessons? (Actually, I can answer that one. I'm sulking. See the above referenced post.)
And while I'm no Tolstoy, I can occasionally string together enough words to assemble a sentence or two worth reading. So why haven't I taken the necessary risks to publish any of my work? What the heck am I waiting for? Moroni and a big stack of plates with instructions to "Write this and tell people it's worth reading"??
My husband has an ancestor who did not leave with the Mormons when they were driven out of Nauvoo, Illinois. Instead, he stayed behind and manned a ferry across the Mississippi. Did that for several years, actually.
Sometimes I wonder if that's who I am. A person who is content to help others across one obstacle in their otherwise active, productive, useful lives, but who never really moves on herself.
I'll teach you how to play the piano. I'll open the scriptures to you. I'll write the family Christmas letter and maintain my little blog. But don't expect me to jump on board and cross that river into more adventurous territory. Things are quiet for now. I'll just hang around here a while.
I realize this isn't the cheery nonsense you're used to finding here, and I apologize for that. I'm tired, and I'm kind of on empty at the moment, which is unfortunate because it doesn't keep people from lowering their buckets into my well.
It's not their fault; that's what the well is there for. I'm the mom. I'm the wife. The sister, daughter, friend, teacher, neighbor - and they all have a legitimate claim on whatever water they can find down there.
But between us, I'm worried that I'm not doing everything I could to make sure there's something left over for me. And I'm not talking about the self-sacrificing mommy stuff. I'm talking about making something of the time and the life I've been given. Isn't it time to stop being so afraid of rejection and failure, stop making excuses for holding back? Start carpe-ing a little more diem, for heaven's sake?
When my turn comes to finally head to that great fudge counter in the sky, I want to leave truckloads of unfinished business. I want to be so busy, so engaged, that it will take an army of volunteers years to wrap up all the things I was doing. Poor Melinda Gordon will be in the Home for Geriatric Mediums by the time I finally go into the light.
No more dreaming about dreaming. I'm going to get a little more steady on my feet, fill my well with some good stuff, and move on with the business of living.
Although to be honest, what I could really use right now is a nap.