The sailor gal.
My gradual adaptation from urban city kid to rural gritty adult has been, at least in my view, pretty effortless (those who have witnessed me rush to keep a smoking weed whacker from erupting into flames, or once heard me claim that carrots grew on trees, might beg to differ). I adore this island so much that it’s inconceivable to me how I could have been equally happy years earlier, as I maneuvered in my Porsche 928 (yup, and it was a beauty!) between dueling big rigs on the gazillion-lane-wide Santa Monica Freeway. Or, as I dashed in my stiletto heels across Broadway between dueling taxi drivers whose sole amusement is to watch pedestrians scramble for their lives. Yes, I prefer island existence, with nary a traffic light nor angry cabbie to impose on my daily bliss. Sure, we have a few cabbies here in Friday Harbor, but they’re verrrrry laid back.
The pattern of these summer days seems a near-perfect blend of workworkwork that compels,
Error message??? This is not the way I prefer to be compelled.
friendsfamilycolleagues who delight,
No, I don’t usually cage my pals. But just like this sunflower star and Dungeness crabs who feasted on the surf-‘n-turf offering of stinky salmon head and extremely old hamburger, they’re well fed.
sailing outings that relax,
On the way to Sucia Island, passing by Yellow Island.
walks that inspire,
Yes, those are my feet in those mud boots in that squishy kelp.
food from the garden that nourishes,
The vitamins alone are blinding.
food from the sea that provides,
Two salmon, caught by a [generous!] friend an hour earlier, right in front of the house.
and wine from wherever the bottle might come from (not from trees, this much I know).
My version of the healthy food pyramid.
I call it all near-perfect because if it were true-perfect, a day would be 37 hours long and I’d actually be able to get a heck of a lot more done. AND sleep. Amidst this idyllic setting (well, for me; I know plenty of folks who can’t comprehend living this far from a good deli), and desiring a life in which all these wonderful things– nature, people, work, navel-gazing– are organically integrated, it’s tough to find the time for everything I want to accomplish.
Hardly a unique problem. Heck, everybody’s busy.
And so, I don’t find time.
Nor do I try to artificially make it.
I just allow it to appear, by staying focused on the visualizations of what, and who, makes me happy.
Damn, that sounds obnoxiously hippie-Zen-woo-woo, doesn’t it?
But magically, when I turn around, having reluctantly given myself permission to not “get everything done,” I realize that despite this, plenty of things have managed to get done. Just not all at the exact same time.
I’m reminded of this, because earlier today I stumbled across a response I gave to an interview question about time management a while back, along the lines of:
“All these zippy computers appear to be multitasking to the nth degree, accomplishing numerous daunting tasks at once in response to our repeated, insistent clicks. But the truth is, computers are only doing one thing at a time: they give the illusion that they are multitasking because of how fast they can process each separate request. Well, composers should be the same way.
We’re faced with a long sticky-note list of many different tasks that seemingly all need to be accomplished simultaneously, and it can become maddening. Composing the new piece. Filling publishing orders. Correcting a typo in an older score. Fixing a software glitch. Updating the web presences. Booking the next gigs. Returning emails/phone calls/carrier pigeons. Etc. But if we take a moment to breathe in and breathe out, and then peer closely at all those important things tugging at our sleeve, we’ll usually discover that we can triage them, ranking each item according to when it actually does need to be done, as opposed to when our fearful, adrenaline-ridden amygdala lizard brain thinks it has to be done.”
To which I’ll now add, “Then put the fancy-schmancy triaged list to one side of the desk, and make sure that while you’re regularly glancing back to it, you’re also having a good time.”
Screw the lizard brain.
I never take any of these joys for granted, yet I was particularly struck by the mundane minutia of a morning last weekend. The first three, non-working-when-I-should’ve-been-working hours of that day summed everything up. In short:
Within two minutes of opening my groggy eyes I witnessed a Bald Eagle swoop down to the sea in front of me and grab a creature resting atop the bullwhip kelp (fish, crab or gull; gosh, who knows, it was a stunning blur), and fly off with it in its talons.
Having coffee 20 minutes later, a black fox sprawled by my feet on the deck. Geez, the wildlife around this place are as chilled out as the cabbies.
Here he is a day earlier. Um, ding dong, Avon calling?
An hour later, after dropping a pal off at the ferry on her way to Canada, I walked down the dock to the floating fish market, and offered a breakfast of some small anchovy-like creatures to Popeye, the best known harbor seal on the island:
Not being quite as big a fan of smelly little fish myself, I opted instead for a few pounds of wild salmon for the evening’s dinner party, and waddled back up the dock through a bobbing maze of boat masts. It was a sunny, poetic morning. But instead of spending the day sailing, I knew I really needed to get straight to work on one of the new pieces I needed to deliver soon. I got back in the car and headed home.
Nearly out of town (town being all of three blocks long), I spotted someone I knew on the roadside looking for a lift, so I picked him up and off we went to the opposite side of the island from where I live. Writing schedule be damned. As the dirt road narrowed and the darkening woods thickened, the theme song from Deliverance and news flashes from 1996 of the Unabomber flashed in my head. I drove to the remote acreage where my friend and his wife are building a straw bale house, and was rewarded with the full tour, which meant climbing atop hay bales to get to the second floor and managing to eventually jump back down with 100 years of knees still intact.
…and she was never heard from again…
Finally ready to start working, on the road back to my place I slowed to watch deer graze by a pond on one side while on the other, sheep and goats rambled in a field. Two girls traveled in the bike path next to me in far more eco-friendly, fuel-efficient vehicles than mine: their horses (I have no photo for this, since I was holding the reins of my steering wheel).
Walking up to my door, bag o’ fresh fish in my hand and lots of musical notes in my little head, I paused on the deck and watched as a killer whale and his beautiful spout-spray passed by. It was not yet 11:30am.
The afternoon was still ahead of me and I had plenty of music to compose, in the glow of an already-full day that reminded me of life’s graceful interconnectedness. I seek an existence in which I have/make/create/allow room for everything that matters. There will never be such a thing as enough time, but perhaps if I keep visualizing what I need, my inner clock will softly drape across a branch like a Salvador Dali conjuring, and tucked within the melted parts will lie every answer.
If Popeye can get rewards for managing her time so well, then so can I. I just hope mine aren’t quite as greasy.