by Nancy Davies
I had a recent interaction with my father that brought about a curious new insight.
He is 88 years old and struggling with Alzheimer’s. He is convinced that there is a thief coming into his house at night and taking his things or sometimes just moving them around. On this particular day he was concerned about a big taxidermied fish that hangs in his office so he moved it into the spare bedroom–hiding it so it would be safe.
Half an hour later he burst into the kitchen declaring: “Somebody stole my fish! I’ve searched my office and it’s gone.”
At the time it was actually kind of amusing, although as I write it down it sounds more sad and distressing. However the flash that struck me that afternoon was that my dad’s actions are not really all that different from actions that most of us might turn to on any given day.
How many of us unwittingly hide things away only to tell ourselves that we’ve been robbed? We hide our feelings, our fears, our creativity, and then wonder who stole our happiness. We bury our truth and can’t imagine where our peace has gone. We disguise our bad decisions then blame someone for hijacking our freedom. You get the picture.
The thief in the night has come calling on many occasions in my lifetime, stealing things both ordinary and precious and usually leaving behind the same riddle for me to solve: where did I hide my fish?
It seems innocent enough but it’s a question that requires a little bit of soul-searching and a whole lot of honesty. It’s about paying attention to that subtle voice that is no longer satisfied to hide behind the fear. It’s about releasing the blame that comes so easy.
But it is also a waking up process and, at the end of the day as the intruder slips away, we are hopefully left with the epiphany that the real treasures in our lives can never be taken from us.
Recently retired, Nancy Davies is rediscovering a love of writing, gardening and long walks with her dog.
by Nancy Davies
There is a fine mist hanging from the grey Oregon sky as I sit down to write this afternoon. It usually takes me awhile to settle into a focused frame of mind when I am writing during the middle of the day. My first reaction is that I am squandering my time, being frivolous with precious moments that I can’t get back. I feel this need to be doing something “constructive” during the daylight hours, and have something to show at the end of each day; a clean house, a weed-free yard, some money in the bank. When my husband comes home after another stress filled day at the office and asks me innocently, “What did you do today?” I want to be able to recite a litany of accomplishments that make him believe it is more important for me to be at home than grinding out another day in the work force. But in reality, I think it is me who I’m actually trying to reassure. After years of raising kids, working, volunteering and being generally insane, it’s difficult to get used to so much unscheduled time, and at the same time it’s so amazing!
I have taken this past year off and I am now looking back and viewing this as a year of learning. In a sense, I have become a student of all the things I previously never had time for. I have read books and watched videos of all kinds. I took a class on mindfulness and started a meditation practice. I have tried to make it a point to work on the internal makeup of my life much more than the external. And I’ve been writing, which helps me to straighten out my thoughts. My hope is that once these thoughts are on paper I can step back and see them from an outsider’s perspective. Perhaps try to look without judgment; even reflect back and see some sort of growth occurring. My intention is to open up with no expectations and see what comes out, not unlike walking through life with your arms wide open ready to catch whatever might drop down from the heavens.
What is emerging from all of this for me is the appreciation that life is not a to-do list. By pursuing activities that are meaningful to where I am right now, I’m convinced I will not look back with regret. At the end of the day, by enriching my own life I am, in turn, enriching everything around me.
Recently retired, Nancy has rediscovered long walks with her dog and the joy of a flourishing garden. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Tom and dog, Ella.