Dance At Your Own Pace

July 8, 2011
Do you listen to the beat of your own drum or feel you have to keep up with the activities of others?

File:Relaxing row in the park - geograph.org.uk - 1370417.jpgWhat did you do on July 4th? Did you have a big event with lots of friends, food and fireworks? Or did you spend it pretty much with yourself — as I mostly did — creating a blog post in your home office, taking breaks by reading a chapter of an enjoyable book, watering plants on your deck, and not feeling compelled to spend time with anyone else?

Of course, my husband was here for part of the day, but he went a hike I could not have kept up with, and the rest of the time he was napping or  playing computer games.

I was thinking of this when I came across a poem apparently written by a little girl with cancer in which she (or he) expresses the idea that you can miss an awfully lot of life if you aren’t paying attention to the little things, like “rain slapping on the ground or watching a butterfly’s flight.” Life is over far too soon.

But I would add that only you know whether you are going too fast or too slow.  Only you know whether a holiday spent very peaceably by yourself is just what you need, or whether you should push yourself to attend a picnic with lots of people you don’t know. Both have their own rewards.

You have often heard about someone “marching to the beat of his own drum.” Well, I think that we all have a drum with a rhythm just for us. If we pay attention and listen to the beat, we will know whether we need to slow down or speed up.

Some people prefer a jitterbug and others a waltz. Whatever dance you choose, make certain you will enjoy doing it.

As you read this poem, which is called Slow Dance, notice whether it speaks to you.

Have you ever watched kids
on a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain
slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last

Do you run through each day on the fly
When you ask “How are you?”
do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
running through your head?

You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
to call and say “Hi”?

You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast
Time is short
The music won’t last

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift,
Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

How does this poem resonate with you?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

What Does the American Flag Mean to You?

July 4, 2011
Is there a characteristic or quality that unites us as Americans, even in this complex country?

Painting of American Flags hung on buildings along a parade routeFour years ago I wrote a post titled Being “American” on the Fourth of July. I’ve decided to dust it off today in case you haven’t read it yet.

The flag I used with that post was a photograph of one of the flags that fly over  Fort McHenry National Monument where the battle for Baltimore was fought in 1814, and where Francis Scott Key penned the words that became our national anthem.

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

What did the flag mean to people in 1814? Would any of them have thought that in 1916 a painter, Childe Hassam, would paint this parade route, or that in 1960 the 50th star would be added to represent Hawaii, a place the colonists didn’t even know existed?

In any case, the focus of the post I wrote on July 4, 2007, was to encourage you to think more about what it means to you to be an American. And today, if you think about it for awhile, what would you say the American flag means to you?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons