What wonderful Passover seders we had. Okay – so we didn’t draw the kind of attention that the seder at the Obamas house did, but both nights were truly memorable and fabulous for us. Right now I’m luxuriating in the glow of having just spent meaningful time with some of the people I love the most. These are the moments – for me – when I really can experience the light and the darkness together (check Part 2 of this linked posting) and just see how much goodness surrounds me. Let me go back – though – to a few days before Passover and a startling realization I came to.
It was the Thursday before the Wednesday night of the first seder. Because I was starting first seder day doing a keynote address out of town I had to be all ready for the seder by Tuesday night. Having planned what I thought would be two incredible seder meals (including Slow-Braised Lamb Chops in Guajillo-Pineapple Sauce without the coconut tamales) I needed to go to Kensington Market to buy eggs and flowers and produce so that I could start cooking.
The day dawned sunny and springlike. I started by picking up my daughter Nili and grand-daughter Freida from Porter Air at 8 a.m., parking across from the Y, having a leisurely coffee and breakfast together, and then walking her the two blocks to where she was giving a lecture while I had the delight of taking Freida for a long walk. I’d be taking her back to the airport around 2 in the afternoon and arranged to meet my son Motti who would join me to do the Kensington shopping just after that.
Motti and I had a lovely time in Kensington Market. You see, I’ve been buying my produce before Passover in the market since I first came to Toronto 30 years ago. I go to the same produce stand year after year. For the past 29 years I’ve always bought my legs from “the egg lady”. I’ve got to pause here for a moment. Cippora Ossman died in December 2008. Since I only saw her once every year, I didn’t know that she’d died until I couldn’t find her store in the market. She was a remarkable woman, as described in these words from her obituary: “What made her special was that she treated customers as family”, said Phil. “She knew generations of families” he said. “She didn’t know names, but knew the family history, and the kind of eggs they liked – brown or white, small or big. ” I will miss her.
So – just about at this point in my shopping my cell phone rang. It was David, who was fortunately working from home that day. “I just dropped Eli off at the JCC” he said. Oh crap!!! I had a Bar Mitzvah lesson at 3:45 and it was now a little after 4. Eli’d arrived, David had tried to reach me by cell but I didn’t hear it ringing, and so he’d given Eli a ride to the next place he needed to be. Oh crap!!! This was only his 2nd lesson. How could I explain this? What would he think? How could I have forgotten?
I decided that I’d wait until the next day to call Eli’s parents and apologize; I needed that time to think this through. When I did call to explain what had happened as honestly as I could his Dad was more than delightful … he’d assumed he must have gotten the date wrong. We’d had another lesson since then – all’s well on that front.
But what did I learn in the end? For nearly six months I’ve been focusing a lot on removing myself from the things that I thought had too much possession of my time and energy when I was working. I’ve determinedly put my mind to making changes in my life; to breaking out of restrictions – self-imposed or other-imposed – and limitations. I consciously chose that one of the things I needed to do was give myself time to just drift and think and make the transition from the “old” life to the “new” one. Something in this isn’t working for me though.
Missing my class with Eli is a symptom. I’ve missed a couple of other things too though – like a colonoscopy appointment (okay – so maybe I did want to miss that). I guess I could explain this – and get panicky – as a sign of aging; or maybe – more panic – I’m showing early signs of cognitive decay. Easier – by far – to think that the cause for this is having no routines in place that can frame commitments and appointments. I can’t any longer say “Monday after work” as a reminder to do something … and without that kind of context it is far too easy for me to just overlook things.
I’ve already done the obvious thing; I’ve decided that just before I go to sleep every night – and first thing every morning – I’ll check the calendar on my iPhone and review the activities scheduled for the next day. That’s a start.
I’m also going to give some thought to how I do want to divide my days. To do that I need to think about – and answer – questions like: How many hours a day do I want to devote to writing? How can I build exercise into each day? Who do I want to spend more time with and how can I work that into my days? Spring’s around the corner (I hope) so I need to ask how much time each day I want to spend in the garden?
I feel like I’m about to turn a corner in retirement life and I’m guessing that six months from now – after a year of living this new life – things will be quite a bit different than they are right now. In the meantime, this is kind of scary because the forgetfulness has introduced a new kind of anxiety to my life that really is unpleasant.
What an interesting journey this is!
I wonder if there are other questions I need to be asking myself as I rethink the past six months and think about where I need to be heading next? All advice from those with more wisdom will be much appreciated. Hopefully I’ll be able to remember some of what you share!