Sometimes the Pen – or the Keyboard – Has a Mind of its Own

23 Aug

The things that really matter.

I live out in the country, on ten acres of trees and grass and stream, surrounded on all four sides by farmland. Don’t get me wrong: we are not farmers. We are not even “gentleman farmers”. We have no horses fertilizing my future garden patch. No chickens wander around looking picturesque in the front yard. No cow provides our morning milk. No cats purr at our ankles. No dogs annoy the mail lady. Not even a goldfish graces our counter top.

We do have many visiting wild animals. Foxes. Woodchucks. Feral cats. Skunks. Deer. Racoons. Opossums. Beavers. Muskrats. Coyotes, occasionally. Cougars, supposedly (though we’ve never seen one), frogs and toads and birds of many a varied feather.


This makes me, I suppose, an imposter. I really don’t belong here, growing up as I did in a different state, a milder climate, a separate frame of mind. In the Pacific Northwest, people are radicaller than they are here. (Yes, I know that’s not a word. I’m using it anyway.) Here almost everyone goes to church. At least at Christmas and Easter. They mostly grew up here, are raising their children here, will be buried here in the prairie cemetery on the edge of town where an old cannon raises its shiny nose to the sky. And that’s okay.

Another little bit of summer.

But it sometimes makes for a little discontinuity with this former globe-trotter. I said something to our son the other day that began with the words, “When I was in Russia…” and he said, “I sometimes forget that you were there, Mom.” And I said, in a whisper of realization, “So do I.”

And that, too, is okay. I mean, I want to live in the present, to enjoy and thrive in the here-and-now, rather than pine away for what was. And, truly, I tend to be a home-body anyway. I’m content to linger over breakfast with a good book. To put off the grocery shopping until the milk turns sour. I say “no” when I feel I can, to “opportunities” for involvement. (There are still plenty of things I can’t say “no” to!) I hate when night after night brings obligations, meetings, and trips into town.

Perhaps this makes me an imposter as well. I live in a world where how busy you are proves your worth. Or, at least, it feels that way. One thing I witnessed many times while doing Beauty and the Beast was the backstage hustle and bustle of the players. Often I’d see fellow-performers RUN from place to place – whether they needed to run or not. They’d run from one side of the stage to the other, only to stand there, out of breath, waiting their turn to enter from the wings. Sometimes, of course, we had to run. Sometimes we’d push each other out of the way in our hurry, our need, tripping over cords and props in our rush. But often, the running and busy-ness struck me as a need to look important. “If I run from here to there then everyone will see how vital I am to this production.” I too, fell into this trap…until I realized how silly it was.

I don’t mean to disparage anyone…it’s just that it struck me as so interesting. So like real life. We tend to think that if we’re busy, we’re vital. We’re needed. It’s all part and parcel of finding our value in the stuff we do…rather than in WHO we are.

I’d prefer to find my value in the way I think. The way I behave towards a stranger. The way I like to wave to a slow-moving tractor on my dirt road. It doesn’t matter how much I do, or where I’ve traveled. What matters is valuing people the way God wants me to value them. Being kind to my children. Spending time with my family. Being calm enough that I can smile as I face my to-do list…instead of weeping with the overwhelming urgency of it all.

This isn’t what I meant to write about. I meant to write of farming, of summer, of crop-dusters zooming over my house like gigantic dragon flies and sending us running outside in gales of laughter, grabbing the camera, waving like mad. I guess that will have to wait until next time. Sometimes the pen – or the keyboard – has a mind of its own.

And that’s okay.

There is beauty to be found on the prairie.

It’s also okay that I fail at practicing what I preach each and every day. I mean, it’s not OKAY…but it’s reality. I guess what matters is that, hopefully, I am improving.

Seize the day, my friends. Enjoy the moment. Live in light of eternity. Stop and smell the pungent tomatoes. Summer is almost over.

And that, too, must be okay.


19 Responses to “Sometimes the Pen – or the Keyboard – Has a Mind of its Own”

  1. tinkerbelle86 August 23, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    it sure does 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am #

      Isn’t it strange how characters sometimes do things you never knew they were going to do? Or characters appear that everyone thought was dead…or never even knew existed? I love writing fiction!

  2. Nancy Cook August 23, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Oh Jesus, in the busyness of our days, please let us not forget You and Your great and amazing love for us! Help us to slow down, take time-out, and smell those tomatoes, flowers, dirty children/grandkids, to know that it is You that has made us and we are the sheep in Your pasture!

  3. Neeks August 23, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Wonderful post, I really enjoyed it. The pics were great too.

  4. ceciliag August 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I have just popped in to have a look and I really loved what you wrote.. and i love that you live on the land and let it BE.. gorgeous, thank you.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      I’m so glad you found your popping in to be worthwhile! Thanks so much for your comments. We hope to have a garden someday out here…but for now, yes, we’re enjoying letting it be!

  5. Rose August 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Nice, G. The content of your post seems to go so nicely with the stopping and “seeing” the scenery of where you live through your eyes. I was thinking similar thoughts this morning as I was walking back to my car after dropping Sarah off at cross-country practice… thinking in terms of how we all get to make deliberate decisions about who we decide to be. I was thinking in terms of marriage, because of a Sunday School class I have been taking…

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      I like how this post has meant different things to different people. And cool that you were thinking along the same lines today! Yes, we all have choices…and I pray nightly that my kids make wise ones!

  6. Kimberly Robertson August 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    This goes so closely with my “Present” blog. I am so glad you let the blog take you where it may. Tonight I am thankful to have opened up this present and meander a bit through your fields and romp with your kids beneath a crop dusting plane. Tomorrow morning I’ll linger with a good book (starting Eric Wilson’s “1 Step Away”) and see where my own writing takes me. You are an inspiration.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 24, 2011 at 7:24 am #

      And you are so kind! I’m excited that you went to that writing conference. I’d love to hear more about it! Enjoy your lingering…and writing!

  7. Karen August 27, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I can relate to so much of this! I’m also a former globe trotter based (for now) in a sleepy backwater. I too, prefer to be unbusy (no, not a word, but I’m using it anyway) and can’t understand the “I’m stressed and rushed so I’m valuable” crowd. And my pen (& keyboard) defintitely have minds of their own.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      It’s nice to know we’re not alone! Thanks for your comments, Karen!

      • Gretchen O'Donnell August 27, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

        Oh, and by the way, I love how you “proved” that you read it, by your comments…I’ve found that it’s easy for bloggers to genericly comment…and you totally didn’t do that! A good example to follow!

  8. Jo Bryant August 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    You are so right – we seem to have lost the ability to just be still I think. 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

      I’m a huge fan of just being still! Don’t get to do it often enough, unfortunately. I am so enjoying cool mornings out on the deck with a good book…soon it will be too cold! I suppose that you’re looking at the opposite – the warmer weather is on the way for you!

      • Jo Bryant August 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

        Oh I hope so. the older I get the less I like extremes. Spring and Autumn are perfect these days. LOL

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      I totally concurr that spring and autumn are the best! Sadly, here in Minnesota, they’re also the shortest. Bother.

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