airport arrivals and departures board

Yesterday afternoon, I looked at the massive  to-do list that would keep me working into the evening and…actually for days – an impossible amount of tasks from writing posts to the endless details of moving to  tending an elderly mom’s affairs.

I wondered if there was another way to be handling things that allowed for more spaciousness, and made a mental note to test out more deeply some of the methods we’ve posted about here (busyness being a state that seems to affect just about everybody these days). Then I continued to barrel through a very scheduled day. Until late evening when suddenly CRASH, life slammed into the control tower!

My friend Peggy Markel called from Newark Airport, stranded having missed her flight to Italy. “Take a taxi in…and stay here” I said, happy at the prospect of seeing her and simultaneously thinking. “Yikes! How am I gonna do this…what about the schedule, and the posts to write and the calls to make and the appointments set up for tomorrow”???

What about my so-called improvised life?!!!!


The antidote was simple: come back to the present:  NOT KNOW how it was all going to get done, and welcome a friend to my home as I have been welcomed so many times by others. I’ve just moved; the place is a mess…is there any food??? There was…a bit of smoked salmon from Cortez Island that friends had sent over to sustain me during the recent move, some olive-oil fried potato chips in the pantry, a handful of local greens, good olive oil (always), cold beer: plenty!

Peggy and I sat and ate and talked. An inveterate traveler in the business of masterminding culinary adventures, she had to deal with plans going awry all the time. She told me her secret:

“If you just don’t fight what is happening and are willing to NOT have an instant answer, then it’s all fine. You find the answer in the moment. Improvisation is like exercising a muscle; it’s a life principle that defies control, and leads to unexpected beauty, and opportunity, in the moment.”

Peggy had fallen out of the sky into my life, sending the “schedule” flying and me into NOW. We made time. We set up camp with what was around.

Peggy Markel on the road
photo: sally schneider

I thought of the photo Maria Robledo sent in an email recently with the words: “a moment to breathe”…reminding me to take the time to stop and rest in the moment…

photo: maria robledo

…and last lines of Neruda’s Ode to the Present we posted some time ago:

your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It’s gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

Related posts: when is enough plenty?
we test drive the pomodoro time management technique
the desire for safety as enterprise/project stifler
‘don’t give up what you want most for what you want now’
ruth asawa: adversity allowed time for art

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3 replies on “to do or not to do, that is the question

  1. nice advice from your friend: don’t resist (say yes) and accept what you can’t know, yet.
    and then, go for a little walk to relax.
    thanks for this post! and good luck with your move, it looks like it is coming along so well!

  2. Interesting how life is so good at providing reminders.

    I had a similar experience yesterday when a friend called in the middle of a hectic day for moral support in installing her first colony of bees into a hive. The bees had arrived in the mail and weren’t going to wait for me to finish my list.

    Deep breath, switch gears, improvise life 🙂

  3. But how exciting: bees! All these events connect us more deeply and become big memories. But yeah, in the moment: deep breath, switch gears, improvise…

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