Few among us would say we’ve been having the time of our lives at this particular time in history.
But it’s the time we’ve been given — the only one. Isn’t it time we made the best of it?
Where has expert timing taken care of you, even now, especially now?
I do not speak of the expert timing involved in kung-fu fighting, although if that’s your bag, battle on proudly.
I am thinking more of the timing treated by Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
So what are we going to do?
Are we going to be dunderheads, or are we going to be cats?
Personally, I’m going to be a dunderhead at least 85% of the time. But in the remaining 15%, I’m going to strive for the wisdom of cats and Tolkien-wizards.
I’m going to look for the exquisite timing that’s offered to me every single day. And I’m going to let it make me make the most of these times.
Trust me when I tell you that there are gifts of timing everywhere we look and forget to look.
It’s in the tableau that greets me as I walk into Tabby’s Place for my weekly secret ninja visit. In the very instant I slipped through that side door, Jonathan was bursting through the door to the lobby…and Cotton, all 450-odd pounds of him at this point, was barrelling behind him like a high-speed butter-colored shrunken Sumo wrestler. This caused aforementioned Executive Director to begin swearing like a sailor and calling Cotton unrepeatable (yet exquisitely awesome) names, which caused me to start laughing uncontrollably, and all before I’d even had the chance to take my temperature, don my mask, or remember that we’re still living in 2020.
How did Jonathan or Cotton or God or “the universe” know that I needed that laugh? It was expert timing.
It’s in the moment you arrive home after the horriblest of days, with news both personal and international stretching you on the rack until you feel you’re ready to loose this mortal coil, only to find your spouse has made you 180 peanut butter cookies (which, under these circumstances, are far superior to 2,000 chocolate bars).
It’s in the dancelike, acrobatic, “effortless”-due-to-heroic-effort rhythm of the Tabby’s Place Humans Who Aren’t Angela, feeding and cleaning and medicating and rescuing and loving cats, handing them off to one another while handling each other’s health with tender care. I don’t know how they do it. I marvel at them. I want to be like them when I grow up.
It’s in the laugh that comes on the day when nothing is capable of making you laugh. We’re talking doubled-over-at-your-computer, pulled-back-from-the-abyss guffaws that remind you you’re still alive. (Actual example: recently, in submitting some online form or other, instead of the usual “I am not a robot” check box asking me to select all the pictures of crosswalks, I got the following verification question: “Confirm you are an actual human by answering the following question: Do you currently have scurvy?” Cue uncontrollable laughter, followed by concern for any actual scurvy-sufferers thus presented with an ethical dilemma.)
It’s in the delicious “coincidences” that are most assuredly not coincidences. Case in point: at the very moment I was arriving at Tabby’s Place for aforementioned ninja visit, one of our dearest residents was causing our vet team some serious concern. Billy Jean had stopped eating, and her liver values were very worrisome indeed; it was time for a visit to Dr. Fantastic. Jess was just about to begin calling volunteers, pleading for someone to ferry Billy Jean off to the emergency vet (40 minutes from Tabby’s Place), when my dinky little car emerged on the horizon. It “just so happens” that I live approximately 13 seconds from the emergency vet. It “just so happens” that I was there, available, and able to race Billy Jean to intensive care at just the right time.
Accident? Coincidence? Don’t be silly, kittens.
It would be a tidy story, that one, if not for the outcome. Our beloved Billy Jean was not able to recover from her crisis (ultimately diagnosed as pancreatitis).
Does that mean the love, the effort, the race and the mercy were wrong?
You know better, and so do I.
In her name and her memory, and hopefully with at least one ounce of her grit, we love forth.
We didn’t choose these times, and we can’t pretend we know where, exactly, they’re taking us. But we can trust that we’ll be given what we need when we need it — and, maddeningly, not a moment before. We can hone our own expert timing.
And we can take the time to take the world by force with our laughter and our love. Are you with me, hobbits?
PS: Monday was Hobbit Day. I have full confidence that you knew that and celebrated appropriately. But, just in case, hobbits are forgiving and generous creatures, and they would want you to have first and second breakfast and elevenses today.