Monday, December 8, 2008

It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity. ~ Frederick Phillips

I am in the office and Karen is in the next room. I am listening to her talk to her cat. It is like hearing my mother's voice...raspy and deep from years of cigarette smoking, even all of our mother's little intricate voice intonations. It's quite spooky actually.

It's been adjustment for all of us since Karen moved in. She left her life and home of 17 years behind to live in a town and house that is unfamiliar with a sister and brother-in-law she really barely knows, since we have only re-connected after as many years of no contact. Our lifestyles are completely different.

Tom and I are in bed early, sometimes before 9:00pm. We will often watch television until about 10:00pm and then it's lights out for us. Then we are up early; often around 6:30am without the help of an alarm of any kind; just our own inner clocks, ready to meet whatever the day has in store.

Karen stays up late into the night and goes to bed somewhere around 2:00am to 4:00am and although she has begun setting her alarm for around 9:30am, she usually rises somewhere between 11:00 and noon. She seems perfectly happy and comfortable with her schedule.

I have a difficult time understanding that kind of lifestyle. This morning, by the time she got up, I'd prepared a priority mail envelope for Chris, sent two emails and answered three others, written and posted an entry on my food blog, done two loads of laundry, made my bed, drove to the park and did my walk/run (Yaaaa!!), stopped at the store to pick up a couple of things, stopped at the post office to drop off the priority mail envelope and then drove home. By the time I walked in the door at 12:15, she was just getting up. I don't know how she does it. I could not survive on that schedule. I need a certain amount of sunlight to exist. Five hours (from noon to about 5:00pm) of sunlight is not enough for me. She doesn't seem to need sunlight at all.

When she first moved in a little over a month ago, I tried to be real quiet in the morning. I'd put off doing some of my chores because they were noisy, like vacuuming. It put me behind and I was doing all the chores in the afternoon that I would normally accomplish in the morning and I'd still be finishing up when Tom walked in the door in the evening. That just didn't work. Now, I just do my chores in the morning anyway and it doesn't seem to bother her. I'm glad and relieved that our lifestyles and schedules can co-exist.

What I have come to realize is that she is not me. She has a history and a lifestyle that has been established over her lifetime. It has worked for her. Same goes for me. Tom and I have spent 40 years together establishing our lifestyle. It works for us. Neither of us are going to change what works in our lives.

It reminds me of a scene in the movie, Evan Almighty, where Morgan Freeman (playing God, pretending to be a waiter a a restaurant) sits down at a table with Evan's wife, Joan. Joan is completely frustrated with Evan, who believes that he has been called by God to build an Ark and she is ready to leave him. As she is airing her frustrations to Morgan Freeman, he says to her:

"Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"

Pretty profound for a movie, huh? Like I told Robin the other day in an email, I've been given opportunities to be patient and tolerant. I think I'm doing pretty well, too.

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