“The whole fall, back-to-school just hit me like a truck.” That’s the way a mother described the first days of September as we talked last night. Me too.
It all comes on so fast. Summer seems to start gradually, as things wind slowly down. But it always ends with a bang. A gun goes off. September’s starting gun. Then it all comes at us.
Some time ago a blogging friend of mine wrote about that famous “I love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel go to work in a chocolate factory. The mere mention of that scene made me chuckle. The little candies slide by on the conveyor belt, and Lucy and Ethel are supposed to wrap them. If even one slips by, declares the scary supervisor, they’re fired!
At first of course, they’re fine. Then gradually the belt speeds up. They speed up. The wrapping becomes frenetic, sloppy. Still, they can’t keep up. They start grabbing the chocolates and stuffing them in their mouths to hide them.
That’s pretty much a picture of contemporary life—every day. The belt speeds up just a little bit every year, and we’re expected to keep up. In a way, we want it that way. We want to live “exciting” lives with scores and hundreds of options and choices. We seek to live in “exciting” places where “so much is going on.” When we compare lives at parties, the people with the most insane schedule are the clear “winners.” We don’t want to be losers.
For people who value unlimited choice and maximum consumption, the irony is, we are no longer the choosers. The so-called good life begins to dictate to us, just as the conveyor belt does to Lucy and Ethel. This is reality, it says, deal. First you choose a lifestyle, then it chooses you—and will not let go.
Faith and spirituality offer two important and necessary responses to those who are frantically stuffing chocolates in their mouths as the juggernaut of life overruns them. The first is to stand with them, help them wrap some candy if we can, and support them in their exhaustion. At times we all need that. I do.
The second response is a little trickier. It is to stand with them, and say, Maybe it’s ok to just let some of these chocolates roll by. I know it seems like the world will collapse, but it won’t. You know, you don’t have to take everything that comes down that conveyor belt. You really don’t.
P.S. If you haven’t seen it in a while. Here’s that scene.
Pam Anderson says
Good comparison–September startup and The Lucy and Ethel episode. I’m on a writer’s retreat in upstate NY for a few days where fall is a little further along up here. Yesterday’s end-of-the-day exercise was to wander outside and to occasionally stop, take in what you see, love it, and then give it the opportunity to love you in return. Late yesterday afternoon I finally loved fall, and it loved me back. Here’s to a peaceful, calm fall… no matter what’s going on!
Susie Middleton says
OH MY, I have tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. Thank you for sharing the video and for posting this on this particular day (what goes around comes around!!) as I just have been frantically trying to meet a big recipe deadline for my next book and juggle a bunch of other things and I keep questioning “how did i let this happen to me again?!” I keep saying I’m all about living the simple life and then I just ratchet back up again…it takes constant vigilance on myself–and radical action (and stopping to meditate and pray regularly–amazing how that slows me down)–i try to say no to a lot of things, but then more come up. Well, I could go on and on on this subject, but just wanted to say thanks for the reminder and the belly laugh.
“It takes constant vigilance.” Yes. One day you’re in that good place of detachment and peace and you imagine you’ve arrived. Oh, my.
Ginny Lovas says
Love that Lucy episode – it is so very true. At my ripe old age, it is learning to slow down, and be comfortable with a slower lifestyle. This slowing down is not for sissies – it is hard to do; but, when you feel comfortable about it, what a relief.!
“Not for sissies.” You’d know.
Lida Ward says
Just the bit of inspiration I needed at the end of a hectic week. This time of year I always long for the days of summer. I need to remember that regardless of what the calendar says, the simplicity of summer can be with me all year long. The choice is mine. It’s okay to let some of the chocolates pass by – I know my family and I are all better off if I do. Constant practice, I guess. Thanks, David!
You’ve got it.