This morning I found myself focusing on another sound in my sleeping house: the sound of the kitchen clock. My kitchen clock is shaped like a coffee pot. On work mornings, when I'm chronically running late, its ticking sounds like the disapproving"tsk" of a cranky old woman's tongue. On lazy Sunday mornings, like this morning, its tick sounds like scissors softly chewing through the fabric of time.
The notion of time has become more and more preoccupying as I grow older. When I hit my 40's - more than 10 years ago now - mortality was no longer an abstract concept. "Everyone will die someday" turned sharply into "One day I will no longer be alive." Each second, each tick of every clock, was carrying me closer to my last day on this planet. This is not a line of thinking you want bouncing around in your head on a long-term basis. Of course, once you have this realization, it's pretty tough to shake. Sometimes I play with this awareness, like a little kid spooking herself. Sometimes this awareness leads me to frantic prayer: Not yet, not yet, oh please, not yet.
On rarer occasions, I find peace in this knowledge. I know that peace comes from acceptance, but acceptance is not my best subject. My addiction recovery program encourages me to "accept the things I cannot change." Naturally, my stubborn alcoholic nature sulks and balks at acceptance.
I don't want to go! My life is, at this moment, more wonderful, more fulfilling, more happy in every direction than it's ever been. I have a job that allows me to help people. I have three interesting, intelligent, hilarious adult children who are thriving. I have a beautiful baby grandson who unleashes an open-mouthed, lopsided, drool-soaked smile whenever he sees me. I have found a love I thought only existed in my overly romantic imagination. Who in their right mind would be fine and dandy with the idea of leaving all this behind?
Well, as of this moment, no one is asking me to. All I need, acceptance wise, is to understand that this beautiful life is ephemeral. I don't have to love this fact, but I don't have to cower from it, either. What I seek, what I try to live with, is a balance of awareness and gratitude.
Like it or not, fight it or not, one day my name will grace the obituary page. What can I do about that? Not a thing. What can I do with knowing I can't do a thing about that? I can live gratefully. I can appreciate my blessings, learn from my struggles, awaken each day thankful for another crack at navigating the life I've been given. I can be the best woman, mother, grandmother, partner, peer coach, writer, friend, pet owner, and everything else that I can be. I can forgive myself when I inevitably fall short. I can forgive others when they inevitably fall short. I can accept my status as a temporary guest on this enormous planet. And I can be grateful for every ticking second I have been allotted to live here.