The lesson of pacing yourself

It’s a great idea, but when God ordains something else, you’d best go along quietly.

Mary Day returns to her home port, by Carol L. Douglas.

Tad Retz is the perfect houseguest. He’s stayed here twice and is so unobtrusive that I’ve never actually met him. I do know his older brother, animator Zac Retz, whom I met in a cemetery.

Tad arrived late Saturday night and left very early Sunday morning. I would have stopped to see him before church, but he had already finished painting and catapulted off to his next destination.
Contemplating that amount of energy is exhausting. Then I remember that Tad is the same age as my youngest child. It’s no surprise that he bounces around like a corn kernel on a hot griddle.
The motto of coastal Maine ought to be, “make hay while the sun shines.” That’s also the guiding principle of plein air painting, and art festivals and craft shows. Spin like a dervish while you can, and rest after the season ends.
Still, everyone needs some down time. I received a horrifying photo from a friend. She has a second infection in her face. Last year it was a sinus infection run amok; this time it’s in her eyes. Like me, she works an intensive summer season. Cutting corners and being overtired resulted in some impressively ugly mug shots.
I try to identify the signs of overwork before I get sick. On Thursday, I painted at Rockport harbor. I forgot my palette, so I whipped home to collect it. I careened back into the closest parking spot, only to realize my brush holder wasn’t in my backpack.
You can’t finish a painting when your central boat leaves, or that’s my excuse.
At noon, the central boat in my composition cast off its buoy and headed out. I packed up, and found a parking ticket on my windshield. “Three strikes and you’re out,” I told myself. Instead of working, I went out to lunch.
Noting that I’m mucking up small things usually stops me from screwing up spectacularly. I have a busy week ahead and then I’m on the road for three weeks. I will steal my rest where I can in the coming days.
Still, I’m flying to Baltimore as you read this, on a 24-hour, last-minute visit. I wish the circumstances could be different, mainly because I’m going to pray with a friend who’s gravely ill with cancer.
“I’m no good at it,” I told my friend Helen when the idea first burrowed into my consciousness. Years ago, my cousin was in hospice in Atlanta. I picked up my brother in Virginia and we tore down I-81.
Self portrait with cancer, charcoal, by Carol L. Douglas.
We arrived to learn that she’d just awakened from her coma. She moved from hospice to rehab and lived another eighteen months.
I told this to Helen as an example of how my praying didn’t matter. She read it differently. “I think you need to go to Baltimore,” she said. I gasped as I grabbed the implication.

And so, I go. You can set your sights on Tarshish, but if you’re supposed to go to Nineveh, you’d best just get on with it.