Thursday, October 28, 2010

We Miss Far Too Much

One of the great benefits of having my mother-in-law here is that she is eager to help in any way that she can.  The empty state of my dirty clothes chute and the piles of clean, folded laundry in my bedroom and in my kitchen attest to her servant's heart...and also demonstrate my need to make putting away laundry a priority in my schedule tomorrow!  The biggest way she helps, however, is by just being with my boys:  playing games with them, reading books to them, watching them run around the living room, etc.  I know that they are being attended to, and that frees me up to tackle some projects that require a little more uninterrupted time and concentration than I usually have at my disposal.
The project that has been going the best for me during the past few days is my Clean Out My Email Inbox Project.  At the beginning of this week, I had 619 emails in my in-box; now I have 280.  This is HUGE for me.  Dealing with emails is--obviously--something that I procrastinate terribly about; and before Jeff's mom got here, I felt like I would never get out from under the pile of accumulated emails.  In just a few days' time however, I have been able to make a huge dent in this area, mostly because I know my boys have been in good hands while I have spent extra time on the computer.  I'm so grateful for this--and so excited to see how low I can go.  Could it I have the faith to dream that I could actually get to 0 emails???  If I do succeed, you know you're going to hear about it.  ;-)  I'll have to do a big "Yay Me" post, celebrating the accomplishment (but even more, expressing gratitude for the gift of time that Jeff's mom is giving me)!

One of the emails that I was pleased to read tonight was sent to me by my Aunt Elaine back in January of 2009.   It's a story that made the rounds of email in-boxes; perhaps you've read it before?  Here's how it goes:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by, and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly, he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a three-year-old boy. His mother tagged him along hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 apiece.

This is a real story [it really is; I checked it out at Snopes]. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the metro station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experiment could be:  If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

This was exactly what I needed to read tonight, especially because this evening--and really, this whole day--had more than its share of I'd-really-like-to-forget-this moments: power struggles with a two-year-old, verbal disrespect from a five-year-old (at the dinner table, no less, where the whole family, grandparents and all, could hear it), I-lost-a-tiny-Lego-piece wails from an eight-year-old, etc.  By the time we were halfway through supper, I realized that to preserve my sanity, I'd better just start I did...and then I couldn't I put my napkin over my face and laughed until I cried.

You know, when you become a mom, people don't tell you that one day, when your oldest son asks at the dinner table, "What does VIP stand for?", you'll tell him "Very Interesting Pumpkins"--just to make him laugh. They don't tell you that seeing his face crinkle up in irrepressible giggles and hearing the joy erupt from his mouth will lead to your own case of irrepressible giggles and happy-crying.  They don't tell you that if you fix sticky rice, your two oldest sons will have to get out the chopsticks to eat it.  And if they get out chopsticks, your third son will also demand a pair.  And if he is given a pair of chopsticks, before the end of the meal, he will have dropped one down the back of his shirt and will be crying for you to take it out because it's poking him (in a rather sensitive area, too!).

Tonight, thanks in part to the story about Joshua Bell, I was calm and rational enough to realize that, despite the taxing demands of being a stay-at-home-mom of four little ones, there is so much beauty in my life:  maybe not beauty in the traditional sense of pale pink roses and a Chopin prelude, but beauty even in the mess of potty training, piles of clothes to put away, chopsticks down Tobin's back, and the other gritty realities of my life.

Tomorrow, I'm going to pause more often...breathe more deeply...notice more more genuinely...and love more compassionately.

Because I don't want to miss a thing.


Amanda said...

loved this post Davene because this is how I feel most days as well...but you know I've discovered a few things...firstly, laundry doesn't take taht long to put away - it's just annoying! haha, but now I just do it and make it a game to see how fast I can succeed! :) Secondly, sometimes I just put myself at the piano and just sight-read something...yesterday I read through Beethoven's Pathetique, which I played as an audition piece for Messiah but hadn't played in so just filled my soul a little bit and made me appreciate life a little more. I have learned this year the power of allowing myself time just to be with myself alone. One time each day I try to do that - sometimes it's a sacrifice but I truly believe it makes me a better Mom. :) Keep up the good work!

Patti said...

I'm going to stop and listen to the music this week, thanks to you.