BOS 06 29 2022 doublesize
“What do you have planned for the rest of the day?” the dentist asked when he did not have his fingers in my mouth.

“I have not looked much past this appointment.”

“Ah, you were waiting to see how badly we’d beat you up.”

I sort of nodded. I was having a tooth prepped for a crown by a new dentist who is a thorough, interventionist type. I had no idea how long the appointment would be or what it would be like. In the end, it was not bad at all.

Unease about the appointment was only part of the story. I had already run errands and was headed home to pick up whatever tasks would be waiting for me. The dog would need a quick walk. My husband would need his mid-afternoon food. Weeds awaited pulling. Part of my problem answering the dentist’s question is that these days I feel like I don’t plan, just take on whatever is waiting for me.

In some ways, that has been true since I moved to Grey County in the late eighties. Farming means daily chores that cannot be missed. Working with a large number of animals means that when you get to the barn, you never know exactly what you are going to find. There are surprises that have to be dealt with as they arise.

Working as a minister also had both routine and surprises. Sunday comes up every week, so the preparation for having something relevant to say—relevant to the assigned readings and to the people who would sit through it—required a pattern of attentiveness. Other events would come up that would affect the weekly schedule, things like funerals. Walking into the hospital each week, I often knew someone who was there to be visited, but frequently there was another on the list who I did not know was ill.

Looking back, it has always been the case that days had routine, had surprises I had to deal with, and limited space for planning what I wanted to do.

But these days, there is more. On Sunday, as I got through watering the garden and the pots of veggies, I thought I should be weeding the pathways. While I pulled a few of the worst offenders, I was hot and sweaty. I did not feel like working in that heat. Looking out at the still bay, I thought I should be kayaking. I looked at the sky which was almost solid blue. No thunderstorms in sight yet.

But I walked back to the house feeling like I did not want to do anything. It was hot and sticky on Sunday. But, not feeling like I was deciding at all, I went to the bedroom, took off my socks, put on shorts, and announced I was going for a short kayak. I plodded down to the shore and then thoroughly enjoyed being out on the water, felt better for it.

I am tired these of days and especially tired of making decisions. It’s easy enough to deal with the routine and to step up when something shifts, but making decisions and taking initiative takes energy I don’t have. I understand why—there is a family situation that takes constant vigilance and regular shifts in decision making with creative ideas required. The part of my brain that makes decisions is tired.

The tallest of the weeds in the walk are getting pulled, but the attentive hour clearing a section of the gravel pathway does not happen. When the forsythia had grown thick in front of the satellite dish affecting the show my husband was watching, I trimmed it then and there because it required immediate attention. But I haven’t bought the new door knob for the garage door. I did manage to get a new phone last week. Two weeks ago, I took my computer in to get a new battery after two months of having a laptop that had to stay plugged in. But the list of tasks not yet completed is long.

I have acknowledged to myself that I am in “one step at a time” mode. And I’ve decided to be gentle with myself, with what I can plod through on these hot days.

Cathy Hird lives on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation


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