It’s been a busy week for me. Yesterday I facilitated the New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition board meeting—my first as president—and between preparing and participating, here it is Thursday and my Tuesday blog post is still floundering somewhere on my To-Do-List. Where’s my ‘time management guru’ when I need him?
So on the spur of the moment I’ve decided to defer the post I was working on—about how my engagement with the Parkinson’s community is influencing how I view my own opportunities in life—and scribble something else to send off now.
Two storybook characters remain with me, even though both the son’s to whom we used to read them are now in their 20’s.
“Babar the Elephant”.
My wife jokingly refers to “Babar’s Busy Day” when she notices that I have packed up that day’s flying moments and given them all a job to do (visits, meetings, writing projects, etc.)—as if they were railway cars full of Christmas toys, ready for “The Little Engine that Could” to pull them up the mountain side.
So why is “Babar the Elephant” my guru of time management?
He has the gift of knowing how to enjoy every moment of every day. Admittedly his days are composed of simple things such as ‘taking his nephew to the park” and ‘marching in a parade with the other elephants’ but, unlike most of us, he always manages to transform the times of his life into having the time of his life.
“Frog and Toad”
Another of my ‘time management’ gurus is Frog of the children’s series “Frog and Toad”. These stories give a delightful picture of how we can make good use of our lives, simply by relaxing into opportunities that are constantly raining down upon us like sunbeams. In these stories, rather like in the contrast between Pooh’s sunny disposition and the rainy day pessimism of Eeyore, the readiness of Frog is contrasted with Toad’s nervous over-preparation. Whereas Toad tries to keep himself safe from the unexpected by controlling everything, Frog has the happy ability to allow the very surprises that immobilize Toad to determine his adventure of the day.
Among several “Frog and Toad” episodes I read to my kids, there is one incident that remains with me to this day. It really nails the uneasy co-existence of two tendencies I find present in myself. Toad sets off one morning clutching his To-Do-List for the day. On that list are items such as: “Visit Frog”, and “Go for a Walk”. But while crossing a hilltop, a sudden gust of wind tears this list from his hand. An hour later, Frog discovers his friend Toad frozen, afraid to take a step without his To Do list to tell him what to do next.
Looking around, Frog immediately notices that the list is stuck to a branch on a nearby tree. Frog retrieves the list and sees that Toad has already accomplished the items on it, simply by leaving the house.
I think that a lot of life is just that simple. We’ll have an eventful day simply by rolling out of bed in the morning, and then allowing ourselves to be guided by what arises and by the responses that are called forth in us.
I am starting to discover that being in relationship with the fellow beings we encounter in our lives is a good recipe for an interesting life. After all, without his friend, Toad, what would Frog have to do? And without Eeyore to cheer up, Winnie the Pooh might suffer an early demise from too much honey in his diet.