Today's thoughts come from Lovely Ouray, Colorado. It is home…a seasonally appropriate and quiet place to land for the holidays and shake off the dust of travel. There is a befitting fall of snow beyond window panes, now framed with Christmas lights of blue, green, red and gold. I had to out muscle the Grinch in me to get them up this year; more about that in a minute...
I know that most in the audience go to great lengths and expense in order to escape snow and cold every year, yet here we are again…surrounded by both. If your only home has wheels, I understand. I must confess, tho, being here—time present, cozied up to a warm hearth, flames licking yule logs, Christmas lights glowing, stockings stuffed, and packages—both sent and arriving—well, it feels kinda nice. My exercise bike faces Imax Windows, an iPod awaits cue on the sill, and a winter wonderland movie runs continuously…snowplows with flashing lights, soakers amongst the steam in Hot Springs, and breakaway puffs of clouds, slinking into La Crevice with the stealth of a practiced army. Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow…
This winter scene would not be complete without eggnog and a good book. Here are selected passages of Burnt Norten, from "Four Quartets," by T. S. Elliot; a Christmas gift from Nephew Darin. The selections have to do with Time, a subject that befuddled Einstein himself, until, in his later years, he concluded that past, present, and future all exist simultaneously.
...Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all of time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable…
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened…
…Humankind cannot bear much reality.
Time present and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
This jumped from the page, grabbed me by my mental collar and shook me awake…"All time is unredeemable," a familiar theme here at the BCB; and, Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage which we did not take." Read it again and again.
Elliot's expertise at weaving philosophy and poetry is brilliant. He manages to bring significance to what is, for most, insignificant…the ordinary passing of time...which is to say, the use of Now. Reading his words, my shoulders can almost feel an uptick in weight, the responsibility and importance of right now. What an indulgence; I have lots of time to think about Time…I'm getting there, hold your britches.
Another book that rests on the hearth is, The Life of a Simple Man, by Emile Guillaumin (translated), a work of fiction, but based on truths about the tedious and arduous life of French peasant's in the mid 1800's. Emile was himself a peasant, but unlike his peers, he learned to read and write. And write he did...about what he knew best, a commoner's life of drudgery and hard labor, of being someone whose feelings and ideas are discounted among the stuffy bourgeois. Here is an observation by Tiennon, the lead charter…a hardworking chap trying to walk the tightrope of submission while imagining he's bettering himself.
"How great events hang on a mere trifle: a chance circumstance, a fleeting inclination, a moment of boldness or a moment of thoughtlessness."
"You have to make a change to appreciate fairly the good aspects of your former life; in the monotony of daily existence you enjoy the best things unconsciously; they seem so natural that you can't imagine they no longer exist...only the tiresome things strike you, and you think they must be less in evidence elsewhere. Changing your way of life brings out the advantages you didn't appreciate and proves that troubles, in one form or another, exist everywhere."
In keeping with thoughts on "relativity" and such, I give you examples of rush hour; first in Philadelphia, then in Lovely Ouray.
So we go about our rounds here…making tracks in fresh snow through town and forest…trying Tiennon-like to adopting the philosophy that it is good to be where one is no matter where you are. "To be, or not to be." That really is the question…
So, our normal holiday in Lovely Ouray will be extended this year in light of new circumstances. It seems as though I developed a hernia, and it needs to be repaired. I'm not sure when or where it happened, but I think it was while we were rocking out in Virgin back in November. I had noticed a little discomfort, but, being male and all, paid no attention to it and carried on with hiking and biking and crashing as per normal. Now I have this little bulge in the area of my groin. It's not really painful unless I cough or sneeze or laugh...so it could be worse.
And now I'm in the process of waiting (a month) for a Doc to look at me and say what I already know…"Dude, you got a hernia." Then comes the wait for surgery...and then the wait for it to heal. I'm much better at "doing" than "waiting." But it is a "wait in line" world we live in nowadays. If you don't believe me, just wait and see.
Making the best of it, "living in the eternal present," counting my blessings, glass half full and all that shit...