“Too many irons in the fire.” Meemaw pointed her arthritic finger, the one she near about took off with a hatchet while dispatching a chicken a half-century before I was born.  “You’re gonna keep running so hard, you’ll wake up having rushed half your life away and you won’t even know what you did with it.”

Now I’m the one headed toward the half-century mark, and those scraggle-voiced words resonate like a missive from my past.  I should’ve recorded all those Sunday afternoon phone calls that marked the early years of my marriage. Funny how all those years ago I thought I was playing the dutiful granddaughter, staving off what I assumed must be the abject loneliness of a widow, when I dialed that number that still rises immediately in my memory today. Funny how I thought I was the one doing the giving…of my time, of my attention, of my respect.

I set a blistering pace in 2018 with a job change, a book release, a return to graduate school, and a host of other obligations that have made the year whir in a maelstrom of conflicting schedules.  I’m spent, frazzled, and choked by an uncharacteristic malaise of disenchantment. Exhausted physically, intellectually, and emotionally by way too many irons in the fire, I am suffocating in the ashy fallout of busyness.

My grandmother warned me about times like this.  She spoke of ambition, keeping up with the Joneses, being so busy pursuing the next thing that I become blind to what is already in my lap.  She spoke of the “incomparable blessing of enough”. To my shame, it took me way too long to realize the phrase is neither oxymoron nor hyperbole.  

Meemaw’s been gone almost eighteen years now, but her laugh is never more than a memory away.  Her earthy wisdom, forged by experience and perseverance, has slipped through the limestone of my scurrying mind to the very bedrock of my character.  What I would give to have just one more Sunday afternoon chat, even to confess how I burned away an entire year. O, to hear her crackling voice with its haunting redolence of conscience…and find my fire again.

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