I nearly didn’t get around to writing a post this week. For the first time in over 200 weeks I thought I might not fit everything in. Then I got stuck in a traffic jam, and I changed my mind.
Everyone who has had a puppy looks at me with a knowing smile when I tell them how Daisy has engulfed all the space I had so carefully engineered into my life. I know it’s only temporary, but it’s taking some adjustment. The situation has not been eased by her apparent allergic reaction to something in the garden, which has led to several visits to the vets accompanied by a similar number of sleepless nights.
On a rare foray out on Friday night we were travelling to a gig in London. Already running late after briefing the “Daisysitter”, we came to a standstill at the back of a line of traffic stretching off into the distance, and there we stayed as the time ticked by and our night out became increasingly unlikely.
I had forgotten how much I learned about the value of being patient from my children when they were small. Having dependents without losing your mind requires a compete rethink about time and what to put into it. Suddenly life won’t run at the pace you want it to anymore and, even though sometimes it feels as if you’re doing nothing, it is “nothing” which becomes of paramount importance.
In the paper yesterday there was a report about the addictive nature of “swiping down” on a smartphone in order to load new emails, latest tweets or likes. Our constant state of distraction is bad for our mental health. We are over stimulated but crave even more stimulation. So maybe sometimes being forced into a place where remaining patient is required is cathartic. It certainly seems necessary.
The desire for something new to spark our interest, and the constant flitting from one thing to another has robbed us of the ability to just be. We aren’t richer for our busy madness but nothing much seems to stop us from chasing after it.
Having sat in the stationary traffic for well over an hour, watching the light fade into black we eventually find a way off the motorway and, after picking our way through some country roads, we reach our destination only to be thwarted again by unexpected road closures. I am at the end of my tether, and my exasperation emerges in a burst of choice language and a half hearted and helpless bash of the steering wheel. Despite it all, we arrive in time, and I feel a little ashamed at my outburst. If only I had maintained my faith and remained patient.
The next morning Beth shows me a report of the accident we were stuck behind on Friday night. Someone had run out of fuel on the motorway and, filling his car from a petrol can on the hard shoulder, he was struck by a passing lorry and died at the scene.
Today I’ve been nursing a rather listless dog who is recovering after an uncomfortable and sleepless night. She’s been clingy and it’s been hard to turn attention to much else. I’ve had to be patient, just like the patience I have needed to put aside my normal routine since she arrived. This evening I can’t help thinking she is reminding me of something important that it’s so easy to forget. The preciousness of life beats everything else that might fleetingly seem far more valuable than it really is.