I’ve been thinking about those old, deeply patinaed French shutters, cleaned to a not-quite-but-near-boring finish. So much time at home…staring down the old proverb (Parkinson’s Law) work expands to fill the time allotted, making sure I don’t bill one unnecessary minute to a client project…I’m thinking about the patina of our lives. The layers that give our lives meaning. What do we love and are we present and spending precious time doing what we love? What do we do because someone else loves it? What are we not doing because we would find no company or clapping for it?
I learned very early in my marriage that I don’t have to love golf because J. loves it. His office is a trove of golf books, antique balls, photos, clubs and memorabilia. He loves practicing, playing and watching it. He’s built a business around it. I appreciate how much he loves the game as he appreciates how much I love dirt and what comes up in it or interiors or art. He loves biking. I love walking. I love walking a golf course with him.
Sharing this over coffee (my third cup most days is his “special” coffee…decadent by any standard), I am in a kind of thin place with him. The layers of our lives are our preferences…they nurture our souls, but they are not the main thing or the big idea. We enjoy our hobbies. We love people. (J. invites me to read one of his favorite books, “The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck, M.D. I pick it up later and am fascinated by pages 108 and 109 and Dr. Peck’s commentary on the differences between our relationship with a pet and that with another human being.) We talk about how easy it is to build identity and routine around our preferences and hobbies, sometimes to the detriment of relationships. We talk about the slippery slope that is disregard for or dismay over the lifestyle preferences of a loved one if that choice doesn’t align with our own.
This all connects for me in a few ways. Surely our lives become beautifully patinaed when we carefully curate all the things we love, make space for them and balance them well with the higher priority and care of our important relationships. I think of our children. I need to do a better job celebrating their unique preferences and being thoughtful about who they are and not how what they love intersects with what I love.
I think of my friend Gail and about how permanent and true relationships are when they’re built on shared preferences and love for the person. I love Gail’s Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, home, its graceful interior and beautiful, terraced landscape. It would be my strong preference to have coffee with her often on her back porch overlooking all the beauty she has created…for our shared interests and, more, because of who she is.
I want a well-patinaed life. I need all the color and shades and depths of it. What do you love and are you spending enough time doing what you love? What are you neglecting that would bring joy or satisfaction, and what keeps you from it?
P.S. I’m sure we all agree that a well-patinaed life must have acts of service to others. I’m nearly finished with Kristin Hannah’s epic “The Nightingale” (2015) about occupied, war-torn France in WWII and appreciate the opening words of the first chapter: “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” Apropos.