Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Years ago, whenever I imagined myself at the age I am now, I could see myself clearly, with great happy fistfuls of time on my hands.  Time to doze on the back porch in the the early autumn breeze, listening to bird song.  Time to write reams and reams of real letters.  There would not be the teetering stack of books by my bed because, blessed by the avalanche of hours now in my possession, I would, of course, have read them all. My house would be spotless; my garden divine.  My well-stocked kitchen would produce gloriously exotic new dishes every evening without requiring that last minute dash to the market to replace a sad vegetable that had withered from neglect in the bottom of the fridge. 
 I would be calm.  I would be wise.  I would be serene.

Those days still sit there, like a desert oasis, just beyond my reach.  Each year I move the yardstick a tiny bit more but they always seem to respond in kind.  Will I ever reach that Eden of the unfettered day?  The day when my to do list is blank; my alarm clock unset? 

Over breakfast this morning, The Songwriter asked, “Well, what are you doing today?”, and his eyes glazed over as I ran down my list of “musts” for the first day of the week.   But I’ll let you in on a secret about myself, one that The Songwriter knows all too well, but is too polite to mention:  my pressing agenda often gets shuffled around quite a bit because there is always one overriding, omnipresent item on that list. 
 It causes me to go off script so often but oh, how different life would be without it.

Heading to the cleaners on a rainy day with my back seat full of tweeds and silk, I’ll pass a used book store.  No, it’s not on the list.  But it’s raining!  And it’s a bookstore!  So it’s a few days till I make it to the cleaners.  Does that really matter? Who knows what treasures I might find in that shop?  Treasures that might open entire new avenues of thought. to the market on a cloudless fall afternoon.  I take the short cut through the park.  It’s empty and the russet gowns of the maple trees are reflected in the waters of the lake.  Well, we can always eat out tonight, right? Who knows what brilliant idea might drift down from those trees to land on my shoulders?
  We all have maps and lists we follow religiously. 
 We are wary of deviating from our carefully written scripts.
  But who knows what magic is waiting for us if we do?

  Here in the states we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  March on Washington, the seminal moment in our country’s struggle for civil rights.  Clarence B. Jones, now 82 years old, was Dr. King’s speech writer for that event and tells of how King followed that written speech to the letter, in a professorial delivery, for the first seven paragraphs.
Then something unusual happened. 
 Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out to King in the middle of his speech,
  “Tell them about the dream, Martin.  Tell them about the dream.”

Martin Luther King paused a moment, looked down, and pushed his notes aside.  He gripped the sides of the podium with both hands and began to speak, not as a professor, but as the Baptist preacher he was.  Speaking from the heart, his words, extemporaneous and passionate, still ring through history today.

Life is just sweeter with it.
Include it on your list today.

You can listen to Dr. King's magnificent foray into spontaneity HERE.


  1. New avenues of thought or a trip to the cleaners. No contest!
    I didn't plan to spend nearly twenty minutes this evening listening to MartinLuther King. But what better use could I have made of my time?
    Thanks for reminding me about the joys of spontaneity.

  2. Spontaneity... we need so much more of it.. always... xv

  3. Yes, now that my husband and I are retired and no longer have the majority of our waking hours claimed by our jobs, we are enjoying courting spontaneity. I was never one to plan every minute of my day, anyway. My problem is I'm getting very good at ignoring my 'to do' list.

  4. Spontaneity-yes!

  5. Yes I need a reminder sometimes, thank you.

  6. Oh, Pamela, my day often starts just as yours does, and it often goes a bit off course as I, too, head for the cleaners. I knew the story of how Dr. King's pivotal speak took a different direction, but, you tell it so well here. So very well. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for confirming that spontaneity is a wonderful attribute!! As I.too have things that are not quite perfect, but well lived in, as I travel this life with my best friend, my husband!!
    All the Best To you and the Songwriter!!

  8. Pamela, thank you. You write such lovely and challenging thoughts, and share them generously on your blog - again...thank you.
    That moment in time when Dr King spoke to that very unexpected mass of humanity ["oh ye of little faith!"] is a gift that keeps on giving - SO happy Dr King heard his friend Mahalia off to the side, urging him to speak from his heart! I know his compatriots wanted him to be strong and safe, but that moment needed his gift of putting power and hope into words! What a treasure!

    all best, from Ft Worth

  9. Dear, dear Pamela, so many words from today's writing stand out...calm, wise, serene, and spontaneous. I am at that chapter of life where I don't have to follow someone else's agenda.

    Life may never go as perfectly as we would like, however we are on the path there!

    2013 Authors Series
    "Love Where You Live"

  10. His speech 'I have a dream' was printed in one or two of our newspapers in its entirety over the weekend Pamela - very inspiring - as was the man. And the story of one black woman on a bus refusing to give up her seat for a white man - such an incident that sparked the beginning of great changes. Brilliant.

  11. Pamela,
    I'm always inspired to remember things like spontaneity when I read your posts. I also enjoyed the story about Martin Luther King, I did not know that. Enjoy the onset of autumn, which is just around the corner.

  12. YOU are so right SPOT ON!I applaud you!

  13. I read your first two paragraphs, nodding yes, yes! Thinking, ah, someone else who has reluctantly had to "move the yardstick" as time continues to shrink for leisure enjoyments instead of expanding with the years.

    But no, you surprised me, as you often have. Spontaneity. How often do I let her in? Or if I do, she's overshadowed by guilt, not the pleasure and joy you greet her with.

    I'm writing that one word on a card and putting it in a prominent place. I'll try to remember that it can change the world.

  14. Putting spontaneity on one's to-do list--how delightfully Alice-in-Wonderlandish! Love it!

  15. Wonderful post! Spontaneity keeps us young. And thank you for honoring Martin Luther King. That speech gives my the chills. So beautiful.
    xx Sunday

  16. I have to say I am a member of that club. I just go off track too often, but what fun. yvonne

  17. I have to say I am a member of that club. I just go off track too often, but what fun. yvonne

  18. Going off script? The only way to go! xx

  19. You are right to spot on... Great post.. I loved it a lot
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