Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap, went her fingers on the steering wheel, in time to absolutely nothing. Her eyes flicked left right, rearview, bumper in front, how to get out of this traffic? Which lane? Which route would get her there five minutes ago?
Phone beeped and then rang before she could respond, like it was a frenzied pinball machine, flashing and singing its crazy tunes.
She stabbed the answer key and saw – thank God, not the client, but the husband. “Yes,” before she could remember that “Hello darling” was more appropriate. “Where are you?” she mouthed as he said it – his greeting always the same.
“On my way to collect the kids. I’m late. What’s up?”
“Yes, of course I remember we are having your department around tonight. 5.30.”
“Yes, I’m collecting the snacks.” Completely forgotten to do that.
“Yes we have soft drinks too.” She hopes.
“Yes, I’m fetching them now. I told you.” Trying to not sound annoyed.
“One’s off to tennis,” Dear angels in Heaven she hadn’t paid the account yet.
“… the other home. Then both back to school at 5.30.” Nooooo.
“They’ll just have to go early. Or I’ll be late.”
“No, I haven’t organized them a lift.” When, exactly, was she going to do that?
She glanced at the text from her eldest. “Nd snacks for flute party. Tom. Can Em cm hm to us? Her mom’s @ wk. Where are you???????”
In the midst of end of year everything - gifts for beloved teachers, clients needing finality before everyone goes on leave, shopping for empty snacks for endless parties and the increased traffic and aggression from all of mankind - the soundtrack to our lives becomes the annoying “dashing through the snow”. In our case it’s not snow, but the dashing is through a haze of heat into the melting pot of a carols service, a crash of final assemblies and a whirl of office parties.
Every year, at the carols service, where the aircon breeze never seems sufficient for the collective parental stress and anxiety in the auditorium, I give myself a little metaphoric pat on the back. “You made it, well done.”
In the midst of the tumult that is November/December, we need more than ever to pause. To stop. To think. To have a “Silent Night” as an antidote to the Jangle Bells that our lives become.
I AM not One who much or oft delight
To season my fireside with personal talk.--
Of friends, who live within an easy walk,
Or neighbours, daily, weekly, in my sight:
And, for my chance-acquaintance, ladies bright,
Sons, mothers, maidens withering on the stalk,
These all wear out of me, like Forms, with chalk
Painted on rich men's floors, for one feast-night.
Better than such discourse doth silence long,
Long, barren silence, square with my desire;
To sit without emotion, hope, or aim,
In the loved presence of my cottage-fire,
And listen to the flapping of the flame,
Or kettle whispering its faint undersong.
Today, find a minute, or five. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Pause. Breathe. Sit without emotion, hope, or aim.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? Do it. For you.