I picked up kung pao chicken at the House of Mandarin for lunch today, and that's what my fortune said.
It reminded me immediately of a long-ago summer--I think it was between my sophomore and junior years of college. I didn't snag a summer job, and Mom and Dad were content to let me stay home reading and writing. I immediately fell into my natural pattern of staying up late and sleeping late. I overheard Mom on the phone, a few weeks into the summer: "I don't know what to do about her. She stays up till all hours and sleeps half the day. She'll make herself sick."
Then, everything changed. We realized that my grandmother, who suffered from Parkinson's and hardening of the arteries, could no longer live by herself, and we couldn't find a reliable person to stay with her. Besides, she needed more care than one live-in person could provide.
So she moved in with us, temporarily, until we could figure out what to do. But she was still very independent, and kept trying to get up in the night to go the bathroom by herself. She fell. Several times. No injury, but it was only a matter of time.
Mom and I worked out an arrangement. I stayed up all night, reading, watching television with the sound low, sewing, writing--anything I liked, as long as I stayed in the living room, within earshot. If I heard stirring, I'd go in to check, help Mummaw with anything she needed. At six or seven a.m., Mom took over and I went to bed.
A few weeks later, I again overheard Mom on the phone with a friend: "I don't know what I'd do without Donna. She stays up all night with Mother so I can get some sleep."
What had been vice had become virtue. Yeah, it happens. That was one smart cookie.
So I'm looking around my life to see if there's something I've been feeling guilty about that really isn't that bad. Something I should be patting myself on the back about instead of beating myself up about.