choosing the moments

I used to think of my life as this big plate and everything was piled on top. I knew when life was too busy because things began falling off the plate. It’s the old adage — there’s too much on your plate. It wouldn’t matter how big a plate I carry, life still wouldn’t fit on it.

Now I imagine the plates being passed — work, writing, friends, kids, house, church, reading, laundry, worship, sleep — round and round they go. As they come to me, I add my bit.

These plates, they don’t move at the same rate. Sometimes there is plenty of time between plates. I have time to prepare and can get ready for whatever is next. Other times they are coming so quickly they blur and I barely recognize the one thing I’m doing, let alone the thing coming next. They are jammed together like one messy big city traffic jam. This is when life becomes a jumbled mess. I just keep moving and hoping I get it right.

Here is when I wonder if I’m enough. There is so much, so so much, that it feels impossible to give what I want to give, in the ways I want to give. And then it gets confusing because sometimes I mean to be giving and I find I’m taking instead. Or I figure out the thing I’m giving is not what’s needed. I’m low on energy and struggle to feel like I’m enough.

It’s a shift of focus that is called for at this point. I shouldn’t imagine waiting for the plates, in a family-style sort of pass-the-potatoes meal.

I’m not passive.

Rather, I ought to imagine a buffet. My choices are before me, and I decide how to respond. I decide when to do the laundry, when to write, when to play a game with the kids. It’s not because that’s the next thing to come ’round, clanging the loudest. Rather, it’s because I’ve scoped out the choices and have chosen well.

This kind of living is a balance between the big picture — all that needs done — and the tiny details — the choice of the moments. When my moments matter, life isn’t a jumbled mess.

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by Seva

5 Comments »

  1. Just read your post over at TWT and your words grabbed me: Writing allows us to find meaning in the moments. Then I meander over here and your last paragraph shook me: This kind of living is a balance between the big picture — all that needs done — and the tiny details — the choice of the moments. When my moments matter, life isn't a jumbled mess.

    Balance is ever-so-difficult, but to put it in these terms, it's oh-so-doable.

    Thank you for your words tonight. And every night. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The words choice in the moments remind me of what really matters…thanks for finding the words to explain the situation I find myself in regularly…

  3. Love the buffet metaphor, stemming from just the plate. It's all out there every day, what's good for today? I will use that.

  4. You didn't use the 'juggling-too-many-plates-in-the-air' metaphor, but I am imagining that might be the 'jumbled mess'. Your words are wise, Ruth, and I send my best wishes for making those choices work for you. Even in the classroom, choosing the balance and teaching students to do so is important to me. Thank you!