This busy life of [non] fools


In “Vienna,” Billy Joel sings that “only fools are satisfied.” He played this song at his recent performance in Atlanta. My mom and I swayed, glancing over at each other between verses, and wondered how the piano man’s voice preserved, how his voice “played [us] a memory” both “sad and sweet.” Blue light and warm April breeze nudged my hair off my face and left my mind doing what it does best–wander.

In the 6 weeks since I’ve posted, I’ve witnessed beginnings and endings.

Yesterday, I attended a funeral service for a member of many communities in both Atlanta and abroad. He was a man who contributed manifold–along with his remarkable family–to each endeavor in life. The eulogies made it even clearer that the person we lost at least 30 years prior to his time is what the word legacy represents. His family and age are similar to mine; his circle of influence overlaps ours; impacting so many personally as their story reminds us of how nothing is certain, how good people don’t have a shield from the bad. And at whichever angle I look at it, I end up staring out as I open my palms and then bring them together up to my mouth, sighing.

As life would have it, the truth is that things continue on like a river running its course among the rocks.  Like everyone I know this month, we’re all zipping around and stretching across the acres of expectations. Life shows its other characteristics: our family members and friends are announcing their pregnancies while others are celebrating birthdays; my best friend has relocated and reinvented her life 700 miles away from me; I’ve congratulated nearly a dozen people on either retirement or school changes; one friend is getting married and another is going through the challenge of fostering a child; one is celebrating her new book while the another swells with new opportunities overseas.


And through all this I witnessed some of my most beloved students graduating, which always brings me back to my world with some new light. Those kids remind me of my own kids. Zade’s last year in Montessori marks the beginning of both kids in public school, a general marker of no more babies in the family; my daughter is going through the 7s with baking as her therapy, a reminder that she is maturing in so many ways.


My friend sent me an article this week because, well, the article applies to almost everyone I know. This busy, non-foolish life has unabashed plans for us.  No one I know has been unscathed by May’s madness. In The Disease of Being Busy, Omid Safi advocates that we should share how we’re doing but also delve deeper into our heart and see how it fares amongst it all. He ends his article with this call to action:

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

On the same shoreline, in a recent article about tending to our inner life, Safi echoes what has been on my own heart this year (thank you, Laura):

“Who we are now is not the same person we were a few years ago. There may have been nourishing at one point in our life. There may no longer be nourishing at this phase. What sustains us now may evolve a few years down the road. That task of self-care will grow and evolve.”

That’s another truth about this life. This life, with its frontier unannounced, is humbling. This life with its clusters rolling over the myriad, this life with each breath blessing us to move forward with ambition and grace, this is the life that satisfies me most when it is in between the pause and the potential. Only fools are satisfied, he says, and I’m with him on this one. I enjoy my foolish times as a break from the lust of the rip current where I think life.

At the lake a few weeks ago, a person I met only a day before said her co-worker signs each email with two words, which I’ll share here because they say it best: so many of us here are still searching…