Michael, I fell.

I’m always amazed by how easily an emergency cuts through the daily hubris. Prior to that call, I was engaged in an introspective tug-of-war:

  • Should I participate in this weight loss and fitness challenge at work? If I do it, how much weight do I want to lose? How much weight will I lose?
  • It’s the 2nd already, and I have not invoiced clients for August yet. When will I get around to that?
  • How can I translate my ideas into high-impact scripts for public service announcements for the Ujima Project? Do I have any business crafting media pieces?

While sitting in the left lane about to turn into the parking lot at the office, none of the three competing tasks mattered.

Nana, I’m on my way.

Following a reckless U-turn, I called my mother to let her know what had happened. Then I called my grandmother to make sure that she did not go into shock. While I wanted to ease her mind, I selfishly wanted to ease my mind as well. I’m not ready (and never will be ready) to live my life without her.

My grandmother is a proud and fiercely independent woman. I admire these (and other) characteristics in her. However, these characteristics can be a bit maddening for a woman in her latter-70s who is in less than perfect health.

She did not want me to call an ambulance. Ultimately, I had to “betray” her and call for an ambulance as I swooped and swerved on the 405 freeway. My mind had no capacity to process the warmer than I’d like temperature inside my car. My nagging thirst that had inspired visions of the water cooler in the office were strangely gone.

Will she be okay? Our last interaction the previous weekend was not the most satisfying. I’m pretty sure that she picked up on my grumpiness born out of my exhaustion. I was courteous, but curt. My couch and DVR were calling my name for a bit of veg time. Me time. That tension of being in the world, yet tending to my introverted self is always there. I don’t believe that I handled that tension terribly well that evening. However, I did tell her, “I love you.”

In the grand scheme, my grandmother was shaken by her fall. She is healing. In fact, she was very much back to herself when she admonished me to take better care of myself. To not focus so much on work. To not be so busy. I hear her, I always do.

One question, what do I give up to not be so busy? How do I free up more time to be present for those relationships that I hold most dear? I struggle to let go of things that matter to me, so I constantly grasp at straws to solve this riddle.  I often work out scenarios in my mind, mourn the imagined losses, and celebrate the spoils. I’m reminded of a song lyric by Janelle Monae (yes, I am still obsessed with her brilliance)

To be victorious, you must find glory in the little things.

Sometimes an hour of heartfelt, shared time is more valuable than a day of just being there. Quality over quantity. Being fully present when it matters most for a short time is a victory with priceless spoils.