Rochelle Riley’s blogs will resume on May 1.
I was driving down Cadieux toward Mack. The name of the streets don’t really matter. I had just left dinner with a good friend and was headed home.
As I approached the car in front of me, which was at a stop sign, my car surged forward. I smashed my foot on the break and for a second, just a second, I wondered where I was. You know how some people say they hear a Bang or a Crash, or a Thud at the point of impact between two cars I will never be able to tell you what it sounded like when the car hit mine. I just remember hearing nothing else for just a moment.
Not the car in front of me that continued through the stop sign.
Not the cars that swerved around our stopped cars to continue their journeys.
I thought about getting out of the car until I glanced around and saw only complete darkness, no other cars and a sign to the right that said “Welcome to Grosse Pointe.”
I was on the other side of that sign, outside of it.
And the driver behind me didn’t get out.
I dialed 911 and a rude woman answered and asked whether I was hurt, whether I could walk, whether the car was hurt. I told her I wasn’t sure but that I was reluctant to get out and check the car because the guy who had rear-ended me was still sitting in his car.
“Do you want EMS?” she said, impatient, bored, ready to move on.
“No,” I told her. “I’d like an officer.”
There was a pause, then she said she’d send someone. I could hear in her voice that it wasn’t true.
The driver got out and walked to the window, and I breathed a sign of relief. He appeared to be 16 years old.
WASHINGTON, D.C._ It is the silence that is most pleasant.
Yes, it is Washington, D.C.
Yes, we are two days away from the Presidential Inauguration.
Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of additional people in town.
But it took only a moment for me to decide how I wanted to spend my long weekend. I wanted to sequester myself somewhere without television, without distractions, without people so I could just write. And thanks to my friend, Michael who found it for me, I’m there.
I’m on my laptop in a beautifully restructured mansion in Washington,D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. The lemon ginger tea is hot. And I am at peace having days, hours, moments totally to myself.
And it is really true: It is the silence that is most pleasant.
Sometimes you need to take a moment to reflect, to work on a book, to think about what’s next, to just be. Everyone should take a moment, find a moment to breathe, to study your life map and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
And if I may offer a bit of advice, do it where there is no noise.
A California nonprofit was encouraging Facefriends to find an empty jar and – beginning January 1 – filling it up regularly with good things that happen all year. Then on New Year’s Eve, anyone who does can open one of The. Best. Presents. Ever.
I’ve done this before – on a smaller scale. When I’ve hosted celebrations, I’ve given guests cards to write notes. No further instructions. Some of those have been among the most moving, special gifts I’ve ever received.
And at a recent work anniversary celebration, I hired a photo booth and I have dozens of photo strips of and with friends.
But this? This is something different. This is a reminder to take a moment every now and again over an entire year and celebrate.
I always say: Celebrate the small victories. They count.
Now, we get to count them.
I’m doing it, and I’m excited about it. Who’s with me?
I didn’t need anybody to tell me that I was wasting time.
I’m trying to finish a project, which is, of course, the exact reason why I was watching the “Ten Cutest Videos of 2012″ as collected by mashable.com.
But then, I had a second thought.
What if, rather than wasting time, I was taking command of it.
Sometimes, I thought, taking a break can be good for what ails you. I’m an A personality who operates at 78 rpm all the time. It was only after I had surgery last February and was forced to stay in or near the bed for three weeks that I learned what operating at a more deliberate speed felt like.
And I liked it.
So now, when I map out my days – days filled with my day job (writing columns), my night job (finishing what I hope is the final rewrite on my novel) and my life jobs (the volunteer work I do for my church, my sorority and other organizations) – I remind myself that a little break doesn’t keep the work from happening. It just makes my brain function better.
Yeah, I know it sounds like an excuse to goof off. But it isn’t – if it’s only 15 minutes out of 10 hours.
So if you want to try it, I’ve got some cute pandas and beagles to show you. Break a leg on the work front, but on the way, take a minute to smile.