Redeem the Time

Anticipating a couple days holiday, starting today, I still find myself here…early…with just one other person…in Starbucks. I suppose the routine of coming here, and the coffee, the journaling, is not merely a habit–it’s that to be sure, but it’s also something that puts up a scaffold on my day.

canmoreAnnie Dillard said something like, "A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time." Another favorite author said, "So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart."

This is a hard lesson for those of us resistant to schedules, agendas, dockets. But it’s just as difficult for those that have lives over-run by lists and clocks. Uber-schedules and no schedules are both ways to avoid life. Both ends keep our minds off the moment. Keep us unmindful. Keep us living ahead of ourselves, or behind, seldom sunk into the moment, outside of which we are robbed of contentment. Because it’s in the moment where there is enough. Where there is a surfeit of "being."

I came across some lines by Walt Whitman that are in some way related to all this. I wish I could say I recalled them from "Leaves of Grass" but instead I found this quoted in E.B. White’s essay in "The Elements of Style." Such is my life. Rag and bone collector.

In any case the quote is in sharp relief for those of us who fall back into living ahead or behind ourselves, and so wanting more of we know not what.

I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough.

I particularly like the laughing flesh bit. It reminds me of my late uncle Mike who lived in Chicago and descended on Saskatchewan every summer. I still see him walking the pasture fence line every morning and sun-soaked afternoon, with that blue polka-dot handkerchief tied to his bald head. On him the thing looked regal.

And in the evening, at the kitchen table, I’m full of something like delight, as I watch his whole body and especially his shoulders shake uncontrollably every time he laughed, which was often. It was like he was created to laugh. It was his vocation. I imagine God joined him every chance he got.

So now Deb and I will take a slow drive to Canmore; and if the sky is clear, we will look for a long time, at the Three Sisters, and wonder at the ancient beauty and breath and laughter that brought them to be.

Live your day. Be well.

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