As many of you know, yesterday I had to take a stop-out of my life, my plan, my book launch prep, to go serve on jury duty. Just like everyone else in the world—well, everyone except that young, enthusiastic personal trainer who was excited to be in the juror box yesterday—when the summons appeared in my mailbox, I was not happy. I dropped back my head, aimed my nose to the sky and cried, “Un. Believable!” It’s our civic duty, yes, to serve our democracy in such a manner, but really? Right when I’m days away from launch? I bet astronauts wouldn’t have to go sit on a jury minutes before heading for Mars. That stupid pink envelope adds a blow of stress and upheaval all of us (except that young, enthusiastic personal trainer) could live without.
By 2:30 yesterday afternoon, the defense attorney and DA had a powwow with the judge and they decided they could do without my help. Even though it was exactly what I needed, I felt rejected. It felt like I’d done something wrong, that somehow I was undesirable. It was weird—dismissal was exactly what I was hoping for, yes even praying for, yet as I walked out, it reminded me of when I was last choice when the popular people in elementary school picked teams.
I was dismissed with a woman who was mother-in-law to another juror. She had a good reason to be kicked off. What if she and her daughter-in-law disagreed on the verdict but knew next week they’d be sitting across the Thanksgiving dinner table from each other? Would they stand their ground? But me? It wasn’t so obvious. One’s brain comes up with reasons of how one failed to meet their expectations. One can use one’s head to explain it all. But still. One’s latent little girl inside might say, “Oh. Hmm. Huh. Go? You don’t want me?”
To top the day off, the headache dancing around my head all day turned into a migraine on the way home. Then I taught a violin lesson. Then the pain went full blown to the point I was sure I’d vomit. Jason came home and he, with Spencer and Molly, pampered me and helped me get through the evening. This morning, the brain is still thinking it might not cooperate with me today, but I’m moving slowly and carefully and hoping my head will stay in one piece.
I have to say, though, that yesterday had its upside. People at the courthouse take 90-minute lunches. No kidding. So, with the time, I ran errands. I went to my car and offloaded my coat, water bottle, and the heavy book I’d carried around all morning; I hoofed it to the library to return four movies; I scarfed down a Chipotle burrito bowl; I checked in at my violin repair shop to see if a repair was finished yet; and I got a medicinal Starbucks to ward off my looming headache. Then, in the midst of the rush, in the middle of the crowded sidewalk in front of the grand, historic Antlers Hotel, a little boy walking hand-in-hand with his dad got loose and dashed away. The dad hollered something and tore after him.
The boy stopped a couple of sidewalk squares away and crouched down. “Look Daddy,” he said, picking up a giant golden maple leaf. A free treasure dropped for any who would take a moment to notice. Among all the suits rushing past, in that sunshine-filled space around a little boy and his daddy, all the bustling evaporated. They took the time and marveled. For a brief moment, when I looked on smiling and enjoying the scene, I was transported inside their bubble with them. Ah, the outlook of a little boy who had wonder and awe about the world around him. He twirled the stem in his tiny fingers and the leaf spun. A simple movement we’ve all done. It’s compulsory when holding a newly dropped leaf. We can’t help it. If we stop to pick up the leaf.
After that, I remembered to look around, to enjoy my chance to be out from behind my desk, out in the sunshine, to breathe in the warm, fresh, beautiful air. Yesterday was gorgeous. A perfect day to be out before the winter cold comes. I looked at Pikes Peak. I looked at the people. I looked a homeless man sitting on the curb right in the eyes; we exchanged a smile and he wished me a good day. I wished him one back. I decided in that walk that whatever happened with the jury duty, I would just accept it and go with it. If I had to serve for the few more days the judge expected the trial to last, then I would just deal with what came. If my book didn’t get ready and released on time, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Why fight it? “Who of us by worrying can add a single hour to our lives?” Or who of us by worrying can get us out of jury duty or get our book finished? But who of us by noticing a giant golden maple leaf can make a moment much more peaceful and beautiful? The answer is, I can. And I did.
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