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June 14, 2011

Time sensitive material

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"Right" priorities balance on some razor thin, probably imaginary edge. It always feels like I'm sliding one way or another.

I'm typically at my physical therapy office from 8 to 7:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Those are the days when I rush home at about noon for a quick lunch before the afternoon shift.

I pull into my driveway, usually happy and hungry. I see needs. Needs everywhere. There's so much that I could be doing with the fifteen or forty minutes I'm granted to be home.

The kids want to show me the mornings labor. A written story, a drawn picture, a new frog or "bike jump." They are scurrying around land mines the dogs have left lying in the grass. Removing them before disaster strikes a shoe and spreads through the house is a priority.

I notice plants calling for a drink. I walk through our disorganized, sometimes disastrous garage, down wall smudged hallway, make my lunch amongst stacks of folded laundry and dishes piled high. I see my dear wife, patiently waiting to catch up with me. My cell phone rings.

Some parts of me enjoy this pace and others do not. In some ways, I've most certainly asked for it, this family. And work? I could be trying to manage my own business. Sheeyah. I could be at my current office doing paperwork, "marketing," or getting caught up on "developments" in the field.

But I've made choices and have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the community where I live. I've traveled 2.4 miles to my home to receive hugs, instruction, and a bit of spaghetti-Os and bicycle grime on my work clothes. 

The garage can be purged and organized, every wall painted, every twig, leaf, and blade in the yard uprooted and replanted, some day. I can research and hustle and pour myself into reinventing my presence in the workplace. All that can be accomplished in a few weeks or months. If need be. That's not so with spouses and children, with mental and physical health. NOT SO. There are important, time sensitive developments and opportunities happening with Amy, with the kids, and within me, that demand regular attention.

It may not happen during a lunch break on long work days. Seasons come and go with shifting priorities, but nobody can afford to regularly neglect the health of their family and their body.

I take my work seriously, honestly, and usually enjoy it. Yet sometimes I can't see the line between being a responsible provider and being caught up in the rat race. Where there are decisions to be made in the face of uncertainty, events and consequences that push one way or another, you know which way I'll be leaning.

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June 04, 2011

love your neighbor

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In the dark is where the really big huge monster bull frogs appear. So they waited all day for night to fall, the three brothers, the dad, and the neighbor girl. We began our third hunt in as many weeks, eager to see what kind of Nessies may be found croaking in the deep.

We approached the (now) legendary Grantham pond, each of us armed with net and flashlight. The sliver moon hung low, reflecting off water, moss, and muck. We were sneaking, excited but whispering to each other going into turn one of the pond, when from the corner of the pond we heard a...

A voice. Of a person. With a pretty alarmist tone for four kids and a dad quietly hunting frogs.

"'S"cuse me, the park is closed at 9:00."

Oh. My. Frog. Of COURSE. Of course someone would have a problem with this, four kids and a dad hunting critters together on a Friday night and letting them go a day or two later in their backyard one mile up-stream.

I pulled out my phone.

"Yeah look at that, it's 9:20. Were we bothering you?"

"Well the neighborhood around here keeps watch of the park at night and the park closes at 9:00."

I stood there silent, staring at the shadowy figure, a middle aged woman trying to catch her breath.

"I thought that meant the pavilion and the playground. So we're not allowed to be here, even for catching frogs with nets?"

"No your not. And we like having some frogs around, ya know?"

I thought of the hundreds if not thousands of frogs and tadpoles that we've seen or caught at the pond over the last few years, many of which probably find their way back when we release them.

I looked over at the small campfire she had going about halfway between her town home and the pond, wondering if it was placed on park property. Upper Allen Township prohibits campfires without a permit from the fire warden, recalled the one with a small ring of stones in the far reaches of his own back yard.

"Okay guys, lets head back toward the car."

We made our way back along waters edge. I caught a glimpse and paused to point out an almost wholly submerged monster bully. Seeing that we weren't moving out at a pace suited to her liking, the woman pretended to call the police. This had the effect of me wanting to go ape shit, especially since I had plenty of leverage with the illegitimate camp fire likely on park grounds.

I'm just a concerned citizen. And rules are rules.

And so I moved more slowly toward the car. Pausing here, listening there, not attempting to net anything. Rounding up four kids takes a while, you know? I somehow managed to keep my mouth completely shut. Not a word about the frogs. Or the rules on campfires. Or my disappointed children.

Is it wrong for me to smile at the thought that tomorrow, Lord willing, we will be there an hour earlier?

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