Stealing Time

Laundry needs folding, floors need cleaning, sheets need changing…

So I go for a run.

I’m leaving it behind, chucking it all. I can work and play, after all. Today I am the queen of the multi-task. Right now I am simultaneously cleaning the oven (self-clean), doing laundry (once loaded it does itself), and ordering a good read (waiting for whispernet to download this to my kindle).

I’m feeling pretty good.

The hills surrounding our valley home are obscured by fog this morning and the rain keeps falling but I don’t mind. I am smoke passing through this mist and the moisture on my skin makes me feel supple and young.

I’m trying not to think, just be right here. But there’s too much and soon I’m fretting over that mid-day orthodontist appointment that will effectively prevent me from investing myself in anything worthwhile for fear of interruption. Not to mention that standardized testing started today. The teachers won’t be happy about me pulling my boy.

Who knew?

I try to cross the busy street but the traffic keeps coming. Someone yells out the window at me as they drive by.

Peanut butter!

Peanut butter?

I guess it could be worse. And I think of Michael Csutoris because peanut butter always makes me remember him. He shared his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with me on the track bus after a meet my junior year. The sandwich was all squished and the jelly had soaked through the bread. He told me that just made it better. I thought he was the cutest thing.

I cross the street and head down by the golf course. No matter how many years I run it always takes me two miles to warm up and I feel that familiar shortness of breath and the occasional heart palpitation that has me secretly convinced that I have an undiagnosed heart valve malformation that will one day cause me to keel over on the side of the road while out jogging. Before my five miles are up I have myself dead and buried. My body is cold in the ground and Jeff is remarried to some bimbo who mistreats my children.

I resolve to write in their journals more about how much I love them. Just in case.

A friend told me she once read that some crazy number like 80 or 90 % of people know how they would change their living space if their spouse passed away. I would paint my walls. Add color to this world. Get rid of the ugly brass fireplace insert. Hard wood floors.

This is morbid thinking, I know. I feel a sudden sense of panic at the thought of ever continuing on without my husband.

I was reading this article this morning about philosophy and it was very entertaining and all but it was this word that jumped out at me: clepsydra.

The author, Simon Critchley, said:

In Greek legal proceedings, a strictly limited amount of time was allotted for the presentation of cases. Time was measured with a water clock or clepsydra, which literally steals time, as in the Greek kleptes, a thief or embezzler. The pettifogger, the jury, and by implication the whole society, live with the constant pressure of time. The water of time’s flow is constantly threatening to drown them.

That’s how I’ve been feeling. Drowning in the continual ticking off of the seconds. Longing for the slowing, looking for a pause to breathe deeply.

I am feeling my body. Last night I woke up with spasms in my left knee. I’ve had muscle cramps before, but never spasms. It made sleep impossible. I think about my patients with their various neurological issues, the botox injections, stretching they have to do. And I have a new appreciation for their discomfort.

Julia Cameron says my body carries a knowledge deeper than my mind.

I believe this. I feel it when I run. When I breathe. I think about my grandfather and my grandfather’s grandfather and how their blood runs through my veins and I wonder about the memories inside of me. What do my cells know that I don’t? My grandfather lived to be one hundred years old. I don’t think I have a heart valve malformation.

I’m on the last mile when I realize that I feel good. My breath is smooth, by stride strong. I try to feel everything. Just for a minute. There is no sustaining this awareness.

The dogs are waiting for me when I get home—looking out the bay window expectantly. The laundry will have to wait a little bit longer.

There are worse things than taking a walk in the rain on a Monday morning.

Like changing the sheets. Mopping the floor. Cleaning the toilet.

We’ll get to that too, eventually. When I steal back some of what that sly thief time has stolen.

All in good time.

photo: flag that spoke to me while on a field trip with the fifth graders to Cincinnati


  1. says

    This franctic pace seems to be the norm nowadays.

    I can see those thoughts racing through your mind as you run, trying to sort through them all.

    My prayer for you is this:

    Father, be the quiet that she needs, now and always. Amen.

  2. says

    Oh my gosh, my life is one big, fat clepsydra. That is one cool word — love it. Reading your post today slows down the incessant ticking-dripping, if only for a moment.


  3. says

    Glad you took time to “walk in the rain.” We all need a good soaking from time to time.

    Blessings, hugs, and prayers,

  4. says

    Wowzer. You have a lot to ponder in this post. I must say that it is a comfort to find that some of the same “crazy” thoughts drift through my mind too. And isn’t it funny how we easily assign living “needs” onto our inanimate objects (laundry, floors & sheets).

    One more thing, don’t you think it is better to drown in ticking time than in the tumultuous waters of your toilet bowl? 😉 You know I am a very literal-thinking nut.


  5. says

    I loved that about our bodies carrying a knowledge deeper than our minds. I have taken that to heart today, going outside between laundry and email, to let my body feel the day, the beautiful, beautiful day.

    (Hey, I like what’s on your Kindle 😉

  6. says

    “Julia Cameron says my body carries a knowledge deeper than my mind.”
    In the first couple of weeks after Andrew passed to heaven, my body would jerk uncontrollably and I would have to lie down in the bed. It was almost like labor…but in reverse. I believe, in a symbolic yet physical way, my body was sending him back to “live inside my heart.”

  7. says

    Isn’t amazing how our minds work?

    My house used to be so neat and in order until #2 came along and ministry and the list goes on and on. But then I realized if God has called me to a thing, then He’ll give me the time to do it. It’s up to me to say “no” to things I’m not supposed to be doing at the time.

    Fortunately, I’ve come to grips to leaving the folded clothes on the chair in the den is okay.

    Thanks for helping to focus our attention.


  8. says

    You always speak to my heart Laura, but this is especially moving. I was thinking about time on my walk the other day. If I only had the biblical three score and ten, I would have less than ten years left on this planet. The truth is we just don’t know how many days we have. All we have is this day – a day to be lived well. The “urgent” presses in on us, when we long for the time to do those eternal things.
    I think He calls us daily to slow down and steal just a bit of that precious commodity called time.

  9. says

    My mind is scattered like this when I run, too, but somewhere after the second mile (what IS it about those first two miles?) everything finds order. The body, the mind, the spirituality of the run. Often, I write-run. (Do you know what I mean by that?)

    (I’ve had those warped death and bimbo thoughts too, by the way. You made me snort-laugh today!)

  10. says

    I’m doing my best to slow down nowadays too. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than for things to speed up. But there’s a wisdom found in stopping to smell the roses that just isn’t there in trying to run down the trail as fast as you can.

    Love, love your words.

  11. says

    Well, I am three score and and, unfortunately my knees will not allow me to run, but my husband and I walk as often as possible. I’m learning to notice the little things that we take so much for granted. Being able to take my own shower (my mother couldn’t do that for a long time)….looking for four-leaf clovers as we walk. Thankful I can lift my arms to do my own hair. As you can see, I’m coming at this from a completely different perspective……..but honey, you just keep on runnin!! And be thankful for every gasp of breath you take:)

  12. says

    You’re written my soul, again, minus the “peanut butter.” I no longer have anyone honk at me while I’m running. I think they’re too busy laughing.

    Think I’ll go steal some time this afternoon and take a run. Thanks for the motivation and for remembering to touch the interior pulse of your soul. It always makes for the best writing… you know…

    “paying attention to life.” I think this could be your second book following the “pillow prayers”; or your first. You choose.


  13. says

    I could have almost written this same post…well, minus the track friend and waiting laundry.

    I ran on Monday evening in the fog and misty rain after work. I love that feeling. I too have that occasional “palpitation” that conjures up all kind of morbid thoughts…the worst for me, besides leaving my wife and kids alone, is being found dead on the side of the road all sweaty and such. I even went to the doctor last year and had a stress test. He told me my heart was great…”keep doing what you’re doing.”

    Anyway, great post…and don’t worry about Jeff’s new woman if something happens to you. Like I always tell my wife, I could never marry someone after her. Once you’ve had prime rib, hamburger just kind of loses it’s appeal:)

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