I perch on the rickety wooden stool dragged from the corner of the garage. One rung is missing and the seat smells a little of gasoline, sawdust, and old rags, but it is a good place to stay out of the way. I chatter away about my latest writing project, and wouldn't it be more realistic if my character did this instead of that, and what do you think about this image that came from a dream two nights ago?
I am that woman you just want to slap. Too chirpy, too early. And all you want to do is blow bubbles in your coffee and gaze at the empty bird feeder through half-closed lids. In fact, that is why we are in the garage. My Saturday morning surge of high voltage has driven everyone from the house and on to peaceful projects with hopes of a more gentle introduction to the three-day weekend. I had followed, thinking we were just moving the chat to another place.
Subconscious finally gets the message and helps me settle in to a comforting silence on my stool. At first I experience a simple absence of noise, but eventually the sensation creeps to stand closer to a small, thin inner voice urging me to listen.
The squabbling squirrels competing with the camprobbers punctuate the low burble of the backyard creek. Keeping an eye out for marauders, the rufus zizzes away greedily at the honey-water. From the next canyon comes the high whine of a table saw. Wilcox is probably finishing the tre"ehouse. I slowly become aware of a mesmerizing metronome giving cadence to the concerto.
Click, click, tick, click, click, click.
Jim peers into the spinning wheel of the bicycle upended on the weight bench. He stops the wheel and uses a manicure-size wrench to adjust a spoke, spins the wheel half-way around, and repeats the adjustment. Patience and persistence sit on either shoulder. I watch him do this fifty or more times.
"What in the Sam Hill are you doing?" I blurt.
"I'm taking care of my bike."
"But what are you doing?!?"
"I'm truing the wheel."
"Is it broken?"
"No, but it won't run smoothly later if I don't service it now."
"But what are you doing?!?" I can't stand not knowing.
"Each spoke has to be tightened or loosened exactly the same amount as the one across from it. But as I change the tension on one set, it upsets the balance of all the others. So I have to keep adjusting till they achieve a perfect balance."
Click, tick, click.
"Do they like it when you do that?"
"I guess. I never asked." His patience stands on one foot then the other. "It will work better in Lion's Gulch today if I do this. You can bet Don and Tom are doing the same thing."
Silence wins another golden victory.
Click, click, tick.
It occurs to me that I am the wheel of the bicycle. My many tiny spokes groups themselves to divide the wheel into three sections. Each section needs attention daily. The intellectual mind, the body temple, the soulful spirit. I must feed each, or I am out of true, like the wheel.
The spinning sprocket and its trance-inducing effect remind me that I had not fed my soul today. My intellect seemed quite satisfied with the reading I had done and the essay I had written in response. My body seemed quite satisfied with the stretches and early morning trot. But my spirit was neglected and hungry.
I leave Jim with his tiny tools and big job and excuse myself to the cathedral. With a pocket full of trail mix, I start a deliberate step-by-step journey toward grace. The dried fruit and nuts are not for me, but for the wildlife I will surely encounter and the yipping dogs I will collect along the path. They will be the only witnesses.
I will have paid attention today. On the days that I make a poor attempt, my wheel will continue to spin. A little out of true. If I do not make the adjustments, my wheel will still continue to spin. A little more out of true. If I neglect myself too long, the wheel begins to wobble a bit. A warning. Eventually, the wheel is so out of true that it needs major repair.
This is not a indulgent absorption with self, but taking care of oneself...simply and mindfully. If I attend to my threesome, I can celebrate creativity, joy and life with others. I am lucky on this three-day weekend to luxuriate in the gift of time. But I consciously choose to spend time daily, if even a small amount with these three friends. Maintaining and honoring friendships is a delightful task, but a task nonetheless, requiring even, firm effort and unconditional love. And what richer friend can one have than one's own true self?
Click, click, click.
Deborah DeBord-Schulze is a writer living high in the Rocky Mountains. In a forest. On a creek. She is currently working on a second cookbook and continues to publish articles and chase the elusive fiction fairy.
You can chat with Deborah at
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