Inconsistency and Idealism and the Distraction of Lilacs

F By Maucherat de Longpre, Raoul-Victor-Maurice (artist); L. Prang & Co. (publisher) (Flickr: Bouquet of Lilacs) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I have spring fever and senioritis (and I’m not a senior in age or in school). I am distracted by distance and sentiment and by the moment, the present, the past, the future. My mind is a swirl and I can not focus. I repent and I sin. I fight and I forgive. I plan for the future and remember the past. I try to build, perhaps on shaky ground. I flirt, I sulk. I run, gasping for air, I rest. I type, I wait for a chime.

I plan a trip. I plan for school. I make plans with a friend for a fall adventure. I imagine an alternative universe where I have it together. I smell lilacs and I am distracted again. I smile for three and four year olds. I teach about compost. I clean my office. I send an e-mail. I have dinner with an old friend. I listen. I write a story in my head. I postpone an uncomfortable meeting. I read. I stay up late, dreaming.

I imagine another life, with fewer distractions. I dream of healthy distractions. My brain is fuzzy. I rinse my hair and forget and shampoo again. My office at work is clean, but my mind is cluttered. I clear the recycling from my car. I hop over a pile of paper on the floor of my room, and I slide. I fall. I love. I giggle at the hint of love. I type clever jokes, showing the best me. I frown in the mirror, obsessed with my chin and eyebrows. I figure out a precarious summer, giddy at the thought of running and writing. I stumble. I get up again.

I send another e-mail. I lead a field trip with third graders. I celebrate in after-Easter hedonism, with wine and chocolate and chicken. I go to the library, but can not remember what book I came to find. I search. I scribble a note. I admit to fragility. I yell. I cry. I regret. I cannot take it back.

I breathe in deeply of spring fever. It smells of lilacs. It is the rebirth of the earth. Everything and nothing else makes sense. I see blue mountains. I squint at white snow. I see brown earth. I see scars from fall floods. I drive in the wrong direction. I see the purple and white and pink of lilacs. I try to renew my faith. I scream. I pray. I think of theology while I scour my soul.

I ignore a past-due bill. I imagine a life where I am physically fit and fiscally fit. I write down dreams. I forget to turn left. I sing. I laugh. I dream some more. I shake myself from reverie. I fall right back into reverie. I sing and play with pre-schoolers and imagine getting to teach them every day. I get a call from an admissions representative for school. I ignore the call, because I am not finished with my current task.

I read a book. I imagine my name on the cover. I trip over the handle of the bag to my massage table. I imagine a small studio with candles and calm music. I yearn for the prairie. I imagine waking up after spending the night folded up in a tent. I look through a catalog and pick out things for my dream of a nature pre-school. I wait for the moon. I look up at fluorescent light. I scribble. I loop a scarf around my neck, fluff my hair, and go to a meeting.

I get in the car. I drive south, but I want to head west. I see the plastic-tarped pool. I long for hot springs. I see the piles and try to begin the work. I write “to do”, but I want “tah dah.” I wear a black turtleneck, but I think of the black bikini tucked into my middle drawer.

My heart flutters. I interpret exclamation points. I know I need to be my own woman. I want to hold hands and talk and dream. I want to share and love. I go back to my room. I pick up laundry. I realize everything is a series of steps.

I pick up the mess. I begin again. I smell lilacs. I imagine a new world. I try to be patient. I fail. I hold my breath. I hear my sigh. My shoes scatter the pea gravel on the track. I loop again. I gasp for air. I find a dandelion. I pick it. I bite the bitter green and chew. I gallop like a horse. I laugh. I hit replay on the sad song. Tears form. I want to say sorry, but know that I cannot, yet. What will it mean?

I reunite with old friends. I imagine meeting new ones. I grasp for signs of the good person hiding within. I scowl. I stretch for honesty. I examine the depths of my heart and brain. I am distracted again by lilacs. They represent the kind, interesting, together me. I remember that there is another part of me that is mean, boring, falling apart. We are both.

I put away the puzzle. I marvel at my heart. I wait for the ping of an instant message. I look at the space next to me. It is empty. I sing along. I bend over, hands on knees, red-faced and panting. I gulp from the white, slightly crushed steel water bottle.

I water the plants with week-old coffee grounds. I reach into the worm bin. I sing to them. Part of my better side. I throw away the styrofoam coffee cup from my car. The inconsistency makes me giggle in shame. I pick up gum wrappers and stray plastic bags from the parking lot. I hurl insults at someone I love. I have a heart-to-heart, confessing deeply held beliefs and my idealism. I lie about nothing to a work acquaintance.

I see the “temporarily closed” sign on a favorite restaurant. I long to put my greasy nose on the window to peek into the depths. I pull up my invisible armor and close up around my unprotected heart. I read a verse from the Bible. I curse like a sailor. I yearn for a band-aid for my soul. I wish for counting to ten, instead of fighting at the instant. I wonder at the inaction and inconsistency.

I dress a chicken, cut onions and carrots and potatoes. I fill up my grandmother’s pot and place in the oven. I pour a glass of wine. I eat alone, only wanting to share a meal. I return a gift, not in gratitude, but in spite.

I take a shower after too many days. I wrap a beach towel around my body, trying to hide my nakedness from myself. I yearn for touch. I wipe the steam from the mirror and can see the depths and shallowness of my soul in my hazel eyes.

I make a “Skype” appointment with an old high school friend. Do I tell her of my new infatuation? Is it a new friend, or just a distraction? Does it matter? I shut my door, but dream of building with others. I think of excuses to miss a family gathering. I feel ashamed of my thoughts. I make friends miles away, but do not look for connections closer to home.

I scoop up the broken pieces and think of healing. I remember that recovery, of any kind, is a lifelong process. I wash the dishes. I put away a box. I walk at midnight. I reach out to others who are hurting. I pray and wish and dream. I recognize that it all  comes together.

I am hurting and healing. I am broken and taped back together. I am clean and dirty. I am healthy dinner and junk food. I am happy and sad. I am kind and mean. I am witty and boring. I am silly and serious. I am brilliant and dull. I am a nightmare and a dream. I am someone’s past. I am someone’s future. I am contented and anguished. I am cynical and optimistic. I am jaded and idealistic. I am prompt and procrastinating. I am twang and jazz. I am the night and the light. I am the day and the dark. I am harmony and dissonance. I am lilacs and poison ivy. I am ice and fire. I search for peace, but I inflict war. I give and take back. I am native and out of place. I pay and owe. I am fat and thin. I am generous and greedy. I am lonely and comfortably alone. I am stagnant and growing. I am smart and stupid. I crave and I am not hungry. I am funny and my jokes fall flat. I forgive and I hold grudges. I am wild and unruly, I am stern and staid. I live with no regret and I cannot let go of the past.

I am me, distracted in my horrible, beautiful mess. It all falls apart in words and actions I regret, but cannot seem to stop. It all comes together in the scent and distraction of lilacs. In that moment, the world is perfection and I take a whiff. The smell surrounds me. I want the moment in the beautiful, imperfect world. Idealism and inconsistency. The distraction and beauty and idealism of lilacs.




  1. Once again you have written an excellent blog.

    When I read this blog the first thought that came to mind was astrophysics. In physics there exist matter and anti-matter. With matter we have positive charges from protons and negative charges from electrons. Now in anti-matter we have a negative charge from anti-protons and a positive one from anti-electrons. When matter and anti-matter collide they annilate each other. For every topic you discussed there was an antithesis that simultaneously co-existed for that subject.

    You delineated eight matter and ant-matter statements I found titillating.

    I) … shampoo and rinse, but do it again…
    ii) …forget to turn left…
    iii) …wear a black turtleneck but think of a black bikini in your
    middle drawer…
    iv) …realize everything is a series of steps…
    v) …wrap a beach towel around my body, trying to hide my
    nakedness from myself…
    vi) …yearn for touch…
    vii) …lonely but comfortable when alone…
    viii) …i am me, distracted in my horrible , beautiful mess…

    Keep-up the good work on writing thought provoking topics. Now, I sent you two responses in early May to your blog regarding Theodore Roosevelt’s affinity for the protection of nature. Your blog coincided on Earth Day.

    Have a good one sport!


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