Arranging the Pieces: Little puzzle pieces of time and place

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By Tabitha Bozeman

We all have those days—the Tuesdays that feel like Mondays; the last workday of the week that seems to last forever; the day of waiting for good news that takes too long to come. It is easy to find ourselves caught up in those stretches, willing them to hurry on by, hoping the day will end more quickly than it does, carrying on through a blur of busyness, distraction, and impatience.

As the years go by, those days seem to accumulate more quickly as weeks, months, and years rush by at a dizzying pace.

But, how do we take control back from the alarms and planners and schedules? How do we make the most of those days that either seem to drag endlessly on, or slip right by? As I’ve tried to figure this out, the payoff for my efforts has far exceeded what I expected. I’d hoped for maybe less stress, feeling slightly less rushed and distracted, or possibly even opportunities to add more to my days.

Instead, I’ve found that even in the middle of crazy days like I had today, I more readily notice and appreciate the individual moments: the beautiful sky as I drove down Meighan Boulevard on my way to work this morning after an all-nighter with a sick child; chatting with the women at the East Gadsden Jack’s as we laughed over the lunch rush together, their positivity the perfect afternoon boost; pointing out to my daughter the wild turkeys in a field beside Steele Station Road; stopping to snap a picture of the view from Lookout Mountain as I headed home for the day.

Each of these moments, each of these little puzzle pieces of time and place and interaction, are ours to look at and appreciate, or to shuffle through mindlessly.

When I catch myself engaged in the mindless shuffle, I try to immediately look around and notice where I am, and who I am near. I may be running into CashSaver after work for a gallon of milk, focused on getting home, making dinner, getting our family prepped for the next day, and realize I am paying no attention to the young adult ringing me up. This happened the other day, and I realized I was caught in one of those blurs of time rushing by. I stood still for a moment, noticed she was commenting on my work shirt, and I was able to answer her question about school. We then laughed together over a joke another customer was sharing. It only took a few seconds, but we were both smiling after our interaction. That moment could have been lost in the day’s shuffle, but instead it was an opportunity to recognize our interconnectedness. These moments are part of what I love most about our community, and they are the antidote to the numbing distraction busyness can become.

One of my favorite writers, Virginia Woolf, said to “arrange whatever pieces come your way.” Each day, from the interminable to the transient, has moments of beauty and connection if we can only recognize and register them. I’d love to hear how you arrange the pieces of your days, how you have been surprised by the beauty in our community, or by unexpected connections as you move through your days.

Tabitha Bozeman lives in Gadsden with her family, and teaches English at Gadsden State Community College, where she is also the editor-in-chief of the Cardinal Arts Journal. The opinions expressed in this column are her own. To contact her, email tabithabozeman@gmail.com.

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