The purchase of certain mundane household items routinely evokes a sense of nostalgia in me. 

Last week I stood momentarily suspended in thought while staring at a shelf of Q-tips. Yes, that’s right, wonder and hope swirled while pondering the question: How will life be different a Q-tip box of time from now?
Now for you left brains out there (and maybe some right ones too) this must sound absurd. Anyone who reads instructions or easily follows maps probably does not relate. 
I do, in theory, understand that if there are 500 tips in a box, and I use approximately one (sometimes two in the summer) a day, and accounting for my husband dipping in to the box once in a while…logic (and math) would dictate that the box will last somewhere around a year and a couple months. Wait…is that right? Roughly thirty days in a month, times twelve, or…365 days in a year…oh…whatever. 

I don’t really care what the exact month or day will be when I next need a new box of cotton swabs on a stick. But I do care how I will feel, whether it will be sunny or a blizzard, if the people nearest and dearest to me will be happy, healthy, safe and if there’s a chance I will have achieved some of my more elusive goals.

Coffee filters, large containers of aspirin and big boxes of Kosher salt are just a few of the other retail goods that render me pensive.

I remember a coffee filter moment many years ago. While musing whether to spring for the brown non-bleached kind, I was really wanting to know: The next time I buy these things will I have lost ten pounds?!

At that point in my young mommy life, I rewarded myself with pretzel rods after each feeding, a salty incentive to will me through round-the-clock nursing. I don’t ever recall pondering life as I bought pretzels. It was far too frequent an occurrence.

Somehow staring at coffee filters, and realizing a chunk of time would pass before I’d be in this exact spot again, brought my own need for change, momentum, to the forefront.

The drive to account for time—my time—still flourishes in me. Like a tulip bulb fighting winter’s persistence to break through and bloom.

Last week, a “Four Years Ago Today” picture of the boys popped up on Facebook. John was in fifth grade, Will third and it was crazy hair day. The picture is so them, then and now. A confident older brother who re-wrote the premise of the day by stacking ten scally caps one atop the other. A deliberate younger brother unsure of this strange custom with gel applied conservatively to his almost green hair.

It’s easy to see and feel life evolving through our kids. It’s harder to account for time and progress—our own—as a parent in perpetual motion.

If social media has taught me anything it’s that there are very few unique thoughts in the world—just different ways of expressing collective visions through our individual mind’s eye.

Which makes me wonder: Anyone else out there ponder life while buying Q-tips?