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Another Day in the Country

Trained to flow

© Another Day in the Country

From my earliest recollection, I’ve always been flowing around somebody or something. It was another’s schedule or needs that regulated my days.

When I was a child, it was my father’s demanding schedule as a pastor that helped hone the flow. Things to do at home were done in his absence so that when he returned the house would be quiet and calm. Household chores, sewing, all were completed or whisked out of sight by the time he walked through the door.

Rituals and customs of the church also had to be followed. They had strange names like “Harvest Ingathering” and “Signs Campaign,” “Camp Meeting,” and “Worker’s Meeting,” each with its attendant pressures and time schedules, and I flowed to the beats of their drums.

It wasn’t until I went away to a church-sponsored high school that classes and school schedules held sway for me. Until then, school days were minor priorities.

Then I married a minister.

Once again familiar patterns came into play. Strange hours, a needy congregation, demanding church leaders — this was familiar territory, and I took them all in stride.

When children came and grew it was, ironically, their school schedules that grabbed my attention. By that time I was also a part-time working woman, so work hours flowed around other obligations.

Eight o’clock in the morning, out of the house. A quick lunch at 12, and pick-ups at 3:15 p.m. School vacation times and changing seasons regulated the flow of life.

Then the children were gone, off with their own lives.

One day I turned around and my husband was gone, too. Ironically, in anticipation of all this leaving, I was back in school myself, perhaps to seek some scheduled calling to flow around while I acquired sea legs.

By the time I’d completed my schooling, the house was strangely empty. We lived a semi-rural life so the animals were still there — doves, horses, cats, yard, all needing care and consideration.

One day I turned the doves loose and gave away the horses. Yet, each time I came home, my first instinct was to check the horses and make sure they had food and water, “Where were the girls?” and did someone need supper. Gradually that 20 year reflex began to fade.

Freelance writing became my way of making a living. I no longer kept time with the office crowd with 9-5 starts and stops. Some days the time clock ticked for 12 hours and other days it stopped at two.

An oddly loose-jointed sensation, but free.

Without thinking, I found other things to flow around, consider.

There was a far-away friend in his 80s who depended on me for interaction, and almost every day we’d talk on the telephone. He would be up early in Michigan and I knew that it took willpower on his part to wait until 8 o’clock California time to call and check in. He regulated the flow of his day around this call and I found myself doing the same.

Once again, as is my custom, I found myself flowing around the daily punctuation points of other people’s lives while I was only halfway paying attention to creating mileposts of my own.

I still chafe at that realization. There is something that bothers me about the fact that I’m still ever-willing to flow around someone else’s schedule or expectation.

But then again, I must practice kindness toward myself, who as a woman was bred to be this way. My generation was taught to flow, back off, lower your gaze, your expectations, acquiesce, and not rock the boat.

Through the years I’ve learned assertiveness skills; those who know me well would be shocked to think I ever had any hesitation about ‘speaking my piece.’ I embraced “Women’s Liberation” without burning my bra, and I’ve marched in rallies. My ability to flow has sometimes been an advantage and sometimes a hinderance.

Being a “woman of a certain age,” my marching days are limited. I doubt I’ll ever wear a pink hat, but I can still write about my observations, considerations, and needed renovations, on another day in the country.

Last modified Jan. 31, 2018

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