Listening Carefully

Posted by: 
Erin Evans

I've been thinking a lot about time lately.  Like a small victory, another winter in Vermont has finally passed and signs of summer are starting to settle in.  It feels good to know the months ahead will be warm, and full, and, unfortunately, much too fast.  Why is it that time goes so slow during the winter and so unbelievably fast in the summer?  I've been watching mybest friend’s toddler, my godson, Wolfy, every week.  He's smart and compassionate and full of an energy I can't even remember ever possessing.  I love how time slows down when I'm with him though.  It’s the same way whenI stop whatI'm doing and go visit my brother's family and my two nieces and three nephews.  I've noticed it more though now with Wolfy. The last few years of my life have flown by and I've barely taken the time to enjoy them or be entirely present.  I've often felt like I was in a race with time.  As someone with CF I've always had a timeline in my head of when I thought major life events would happen.  My parents got married when they were 21 and had their first child, my older brother at 25, my other brother at 28, and me at 30.  My dad built us a beautiful house somewhere in there as well.  I assumed by the time I was 30 I would have done some of, if not all of these things.  I'm now approaching 31 and I don't have my own home, I'm not married, and I don't have kids.  There are still days when I'm entirely unsure of what I'm "doing with my life".

When I turned 30 last August I almost felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders, knowing I had officially failed at accomplishing these life plans.  I felt relieved to be able to say "So things didn't turn out like I had planned, who cares?"  Accepting that failure allowed me the freedom I needed to move on from those dreams.  I'm not saying they won't happen but I no longer feel like I'm on a strict time line that is so demanding that it doesn't allow me that space to be in the moment.  Always looking ahead means not seeing what is right in front of you.  Being 30 has brought so many new and (often) exciting experiences in my life, most of them involving doing things alone for the first time.  I'm not really one to do things by myself, I'm much more comfortable having a friend or partner to do things with me.  Since turning 30 I’ve gone on two trips by myself which has also meant taking a taxi by myself and staying in a motel by myself, all for the first time.  I also ate dinner at a restaurant alone for the first time ever, and I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Valentine’s Day alone.  It was also the first time I lived completely alone, and the first time that I both got my heart broken and fell completely in love all in one year. Although these were never goals I wanted to accomplish, I am stronger for having had all these experiences.  Overall it’s been one of the most enlightening years of my life.  And ironically it was the year that I stopped watching the clock and trying to fit certain events into my imaginary time line. 

All this is to say that over the last several months of watching Wolfy he's reminded me every week through his soft two and a half year old disposition how to make time slow down.  So I guess you can add "learning how to live from a two year old" to my list of firsts for my 30th year.  I run around all week from work, to yoga, to the grocery store, to softball, to the bank, to my house, etc. but when he walks through my door it all slows down.  I've had to relearn how to walk when I'm with him.  His steps are slow and small so I have to match his.  When we start out on a walk he always reaches up and takes my hand, as if to remind me of the pace we will be walking.  He likes to look at things closely and ask questions.  He likes to hug and laugh and roll on the ground.  We do all of it.  The other day as we walked down my road to see the horses at the farm near my house Wolfy stopped and made me stop too.  He put his fingers to his lips and quietly said "shhhh... train".  And sure enough a train was getting closer to the crossing near my house.  Wolfy is obsessed with trains, his favorite “train” is Thomas thetank engine.  He had insisted on 

taking his Thomas the tank engine toy with us on the walk explaining that "Thomas wanted to see the horses too."  We stopped and listened as the train got closer and closer then blew its whistle and quickly faded away again.  Like the train, life comes and goes so quickly.  Sometimes it’s just nice to stand on the edge of the road in the sun and not just hear your life, but really listen to it for a while.




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