The first time I saw my friend Maryanne, she and her eighteen-month-old son were building houses out of sand in the shade of a play structure in our neighbourhood park. Seated side by side, they packed sand into plastic containers and constructed houses of all shapes and sizes.
I played with my own eighteen-month-old daughter nearby and eavesdropped on their conversation.
“What kind of house do you want to build next?” she asked.
“A bungalow,” her son said.
WOW. What toddler knows the word bungalow? And who was this Wonder Of Women with him?
Over the twenty-three years of our friendship (both those children are now almost twenty-five), I have said WOW about Maryanne many times. She has other exceptional qualities besides an advanced vocabulary and a knack for creative story building.
She celebrated her 60th birthday on the weekend and the occasion caused me to reflect on her WOW qualities.
GENEROSITY – I have been at her house to see her open her door wide to people in need. No matter if an arrival is unannounced or if it means re-evaluating food supplies or sleeping arrangements, she accommodates with grace and dignity. It is a gift rarer than the finest diamonds.
SELF-WITNESS – She has the ability to rise above herself, look down and sort life out from a higher perspective. This skill has led her to success in business and helped her to overcome tragic loss.
INTUITION – She seems to reach through the veil of the universe. She just knows things. Sometimes I have to do a double-take after hearing her insights.
LAUGHTER – She is fun. We laugh together a lot.
Her generosity means that saying “No” does not come naturally, but her self-witness is telling her that sometimes that’s exactly what she needs to start saying. She’s learning to listen to her intuition and to choose what serves her and what does not. Which activities, causes or people should she say no to because they drain her without ever giving back? Which activities, causes or people energize her or bring her laughter?
Maryanne is ever-evolving and choosinghow to spend her time and with whom to spend that time. Like Pokemon’s Pikachu saying “I choose you!”
I will be sixty in a few years too, so I’m also am developing the steely inner resolve that comes with the wisdom of age. I am more discerning about how I spend my days, and with whom. I am drawing firm boundaries around demands on my time. One thing I know: Time spent with Maryanne is time well spent. I choose her!
She inspires me to be a better person. I’m not Maryanne’s best friend, but I aim to be the best friend for her in certain circumstances. I hope I refill her well in some way and bring her laughter.
On her 60th birthday I asked myself, “What gift could I give to such a WOW person?” The only thing I could think of was to let her know this:
I didn’t even know such a bird existed, and I thought, “What if I was in the right place at the right time, and an olive-sided flycatcher alighted on a branch next to me? I wouldn’t appreciate it at all. I wouldn’t know that it was uncommon but fantastic!”
I experienced that uncomfortable feeling of being blind to something important, like when a person meets a celebrity but doesn’t recognize them, and afterwards someone says, “You know who that was, right?”
On my nature walks I could be rubbing shoulders with the bird equivalent of Tom Hanks or Helen Mirren and not even know it.
I’m not sure there’s a resolution to my problem. I have enough going on in my life (too much), so I can’t add birding to the list. I will keep reading and learning though, in the hope that in future more uncommon but fantastic things will get the appreciation they deserve.
Some days it feels like so much of my life, so many people and events, lie on the path behind me, how much more can be ahead?
days, it’s helpful to stumble upon trees like these growing together on my
friend’s property near Lake Huron.
A sprout of a completely different kind of tree is growing through the trunk of the sawed-off trunk of an old tree.
I searched from
all sides and from high and low angles, and I could not find the root system for
the younger twig. It is below ground, an integral part of the roots of the cedar.
The largest trunk on the original cedar was cut off—a loss that must have felt like the end. But no! Something unexpected was hiding there all along, intertwined with the roots, waiting to spring to life.
On this eve of July 4, I could write about how much I love America. What a beautiful, amazing country it is—and how I’m worried about it.
In the past, when I travelled internationally the first question people asked when they heard my accent was: Are you American? Now, it is: Are you Canadian? Best not to lead with “America,” I’m told, because people who aren’t American get too offended.
Internationally, things are not great, America. Just sayin’. But I’m pulling for ya!
Or, I could write about how my son graduated from university and how proud of him I am. And how convocation ceremonies are the most joyful, mind-numbing experiences we humans have ever come up with. At my son’s convocation we celebrated when he kneeled to be hooded, and when we reached the final name in the looooooooooooooong list. Zimmerman! Yay!
I could also write about how I’ve finished a first draft of a novel after writing for a really, really, really (really) long time. I had started to wonder if I would ever finish. I have. Good for me.
But that’s really all I have to say about all of those things. But because I’ve been finishing my first draft, travelling to my son’s grad, and celebrating Canada Day, I haven’t had any time to weed my garden.
Weeding . . . that’s a good topic. I recommend you read about it on Tuesdays with Laurie: Gardening.
An invitation to ponder the people, places, things, events, and opportunities in your life that are not positive, uplifting, constructive, or healing, or that don’t support the best version of you. I’ll do that while I’m in my garden pulling out actual weeds.