"Another cup of coffee?"
Sitting on my deck, watching the yellow leaves rain down on the still green lawn, hearing the cicadas resounding, the muffled rumble of traffic from distant roads, the rustle of leaves in the trees, it's easy to enjoy the mild temperatures and the slow pace of an early almost autumn morning.
For far too often, I've rushed through life, seldom sitting still for any length of time and questioning how anyone could possibly endure sitting still or moving slowly. Then, old age with its proclivities for diminished energy, aches and pains entered.
It's said we learn from experiencing what others experience (walking a mile in their shoes) and elders certainly can commensurate with the younger about many stages of life. We might try, along with those years of experience, to remember what it was like to be young and to relish the vitality and energy of the young instead of criticizing them.
One thing I could have, should have learned years earlier, was to appreciate the still moments, to relish a second cup of coffee or another hour visiting with a family member or friend.
As I contemplate this, I realize what a blessed life I had as a youth. I had time to play, to read voraciously, to dream. I wrote poetry played music. My dear mother, whom I did not appreciate enough, was a teacher and certainly provided my brothers and me with ample opportunities to learn and to experience life.
After college, married life and children became my focus and I seldom if ever "took time for myself." Reading was almost all "how-t0" books -- how to be a better wife, a better parent, to parent teens, to manage time, to care for elderly parents. And, then, that upward climb peaked and the children grew up and began exiting the home, going to college, getting married, establishing their own homes and having children. The "how to" books changed and included books on grandparenting, releasing adult children, respecting relational boundaries. I returned to the work force allowed myself to be consumed with work and still didn't slow down.
The downhill trek has involved adult children returning for brief periods of time, when between houses, but is involving a more and more empty house and fewer daily demands.
Now, it's time for another cup of coffee. The first cup, though not empty has chilled. The day noises have accelerated, the day is brighter, the demands are beginning to press for attention. But, there's still time for one more cup, one more chapter to read of a historical novel (no self-help there).
Somehow, I think of the decades of the 50s and 60s as the middle years, then remember hearing author Elisabeth Elliot ask: "Do you know any 120-year-old people?" She was making the point, that 60 is not middle age but is over the crest of the hill of an average life span. Oh, that I would use the latter years wisely, appropriately, loving those in my life and cherishing the times, whether rushed or still, and always growing, learning, improving.
Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. She has nine grown "children," six sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and 13 grandchildren with two more on the way. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected]