Saturday, June 13, 2009

Things that don't matter...

I just finished reading a book called Barefoot, by Erin Hilderbrand. It was billed as "a great beach read," which I thought would mean "not serious, fun, silly, just a way to jumpstart the summer without being challenged or moved at all." I'm glad this book did not fit into my narrow definition of a beach read. There are life-rattling situations for each of the novel's three main female characters to deal with: Vicki had lung cancer, Melanie was reeling from her husband's infidelity, and Brenda had recently derailed her career as a college professor.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Vicki began to compile a list of things that no longer mattered to her because her illness and chemotherapy and surgery and the very real possibility of dying and leaving her two young sons behind had become the only things that mattered to her. Here are a few of the things she put on her list:

* the smell of a new car
* spinach in her teeth
* Colleen Redd's baby shower
* the baseball standings
* a pretty skirt worn with the wrong shoes
* powder-post beetles in the attic
* uncut toenails
* the traffic on I-95
* collecting pinecones for Christmas wreaths



Naturally, after I read that list, I pulled out my journal to pen my own.
Here are a few things I put on my list of things that don't matter.

* whether the Christmas tree is real or fake
* using the "right" fork
* hair color or style or length
* eating cereal for dinner
* buying clothes at the mall or at Good Will
* the cost, square footage, or style of a home
* Playstation or Wii or X-Box
* reality shows about bounty hunters or surviving in the jungle or people who have too many children
* reading and being able to articulately discuss Tolstoy or Shakespeare or Maya Angelou
* whether the books I like matter to reviewers or other readers
* responding to or forwarding chain emails - or even reading them
* who wins the NBA finals or the NHL or the Super Bowl
* winning at tennis or ping pong with the family - why keep score at all?
* how often I dust or vacuum or mop the floor
* brand name cereal, pasta sauce, coffee, clothes, shoes, furniture, jewelry, colleges
* saying the right words when I pray - or saying anything at all
* being "right" about what matters and what doesn't matter


Here's what matters most to me these days:

* celebrating important accomplishments and occasions with the people I know and love
* that we are together, healthy, happy, thriving.
* that our roof is strong and not leaking at the moment
* that we are loved and fully engaged in loving others
* connections - deep, soulful, mindful, intentional, spirit-stirring connections
* peace, first within, then with those around me, and in all the world
* deepening my faith practice without apology or explanation
* regular times of prayer and sacred reading, lectio divina


* adult sleepovers: sipping wine, reading to each other, complaining about our lives, laughing at ourselves, telling stories, sharing secrets, and celebrating long friendships against all kinds of odds
* honesty, speaking the truth in love, to myself and to others
* keeping the Sabbath wholly, at rest and afloat in joyful celebration
* reading and writing every day
* laughter and tears
* dinner with the family, lunch with friends, and tea alone
* intimacy and solitude
* "aha" moments, especially the ones that coincide with the "aha" moments of others

* a growing and active son, skinned knees, hairy legs and all
* an active, beautiful, strong daughter, who is heading off for a week of camp on Monday morning (Please pray that she is safe and has a good time while she is there; she matters a whole lot to me - more than ever these days!)
* playing with my children's hair and earlobes and fingers while listening to the stories they tell of their time with friends
* lying in bed until 1 am reading and copying pithy quotes into my journal
* waking up, making strong coffee or tea, and smiling to myself about my new late night reading addiction
* asking and then living my way into the answers to the larger life questions that seem to be heavy on my heart and mind of late, even heavier than usual
* being aware and mindful of the many blessings I have received and continue to enjoy in my lifetime
* being grateful for all of the above

3 comments:

Lisa said...

Wonderful list!

Thank you for sharing.

Of course, I echo many of the same ~ and am oh-so-grateful to have you in my life to share them with :-)

Sabbath blessings to you today...

jena strong said...

This inspires me to make these lists - I think (no, I know) I get way to bogged down in the what-doesn't-really-matter list. Thanks for the lift - it's like someone literally nudged my chin upward.

Amy said...

Gail,

Thank you for listing me as a woman you respect! Ditto! Although I'm not blogging for a while, I still continue to read my fave blogs.

You are a gem! And, yes, we do need to count our many blessings daily.