I just finished going through my last Past Box, so I'm in a pensive mood, I guess. I feel as if I've just watched a movie of a part of my life. This box was mostly centered around college. My parents kept every letter I wrote to home from college. I read through them tonight, then replaced them in the Past Box. I had forgotten that I had performed in so many places, playing piano/organ and singing. I don't sing much anymore, unfortunately. But all it takes is a program or bulletin and the past comes alive for me again. I remember the Pie Jesu I sang at Trinity UMC. I remember learning the Un Bel Di aria at Lambuth. Both those pieces of music I can still sing from memory (in Latin and Italian respectively). The music still lives for me, even if I don't sing it much.
I am 50 years old now. Somehow I have the feeling that I am starting the second half of my life, when in reality the expected lifespan for a woman in the U.S. is shorter than 100 years, so in fact I am well into the second half of my life. The time has really flown, and it seems that every week goes by faster than the preceding week. Our son will graduate from college in May, get married in July, and our daughter and her husband will have their second child in November. Amidst all those exciting events, we will be selling our house and moving only God knows where. I don't say that to be sarcastic; it is true. Only God knows. The older I get, the less I like the "not knowing."
I can handle my Past Boxes. The past is fixed and stationary now. It can't be changed. The joys, the sorrows, the memories, the regrets - all are fixed in the medium we call "time." Each day now I am closer to the end of my life, and sometimes I feel time is running out. I don't know where my sense of urgency comes from. Maybe it's because the news is filled with fear and unrest and disasters. Maybe it's because my memory isn't as clear as it used to be, and I interpret that as a warning sign of aging. Maybe it's because I have so many things I want to do and so many things I want to create. I want to leave behind more of myself than the contents of my Past Boxes.
I remember a story about an old man planting an apple tree. A boy watched him for awhile, then said, "You crazy old fool. You know you'll never live to enjoy eating a single apple from that tree." The old man nodded and said, "I'm not planting the tree for me."
Last fall Ed planted many, many bulbs in the yard - daffodil type flowers - that will be popping up when the weather in Maine decides grudgingly to admit it's spring and melt the snow. We may not even be living here to see the flowers. Or we may be living here, realizing that next spring someone else will be here to enjoy their beauty. Ed said that's why he likes the perennial bulbs better than the annuals. He likes to plant once and see the flowers come back again and again. Even though he may not be here in this location to enjoy the sight, at least others will benefit.
My sister is a gardener par excellence. She can understand seed, bulb, and growing analogies.
I guess that I am trying to understand, on my journey to simplicity, what is it I am planting on the way, why I am planting it, and the importance of investing time and energy in leaving part of myself for those who come after me (including one as-yet-unnamed baby due in November!).