Saturday, October 23, 2010

Of time and change

A couple of nights ago I had a long conversation with my husband, asking him to serve as a sounding board while I attempted to get to the root of some of the resistance I'm currently feeling.

And one of the things he said that stuck with me -- and I don't remember how he said it, or what the context was -- is that we get caught up in time.  Some seeds take a long time to bear fruit, and our impatience for what is to come gets in the way of our appreciation of what is.  The urgency we feel creates a low-level anxiety and restlessness.

He told a story of one of his Indian bosses, barely in his thirties at the time, who said to him, "Oh, you Americans: you are conditioned by your TV shows to think everything will be resolved in half an hour."

And I'm thinking, as I look at the clouds reflected in the face of this beautiful clock, that maybe we get confused about living in the Now.  Living in the Now doesn't mean everything HAPPENS now.  Nor does it mean that what ISN'T happening now has no value.  I think it's more about letting go of our expectations for what could be and taking a minute to appreciate what is now. 

Yes, time is passing.  Yes, what we had hoped to accomplish hasn't happened yet, and the hands of the clock are still moving.  The pattern of clouds on the face of the clock is changing all the time.  But the clock is still there and still ticking -- just as it has been for over 100 years. Since 1908 when it arrived, this particular clock has been dunked into Puget Sound, tossed in a warehouse, and moved around here and there.  But it still stands, a patient reminder of endurance in the face of change.

Yes, I am eager for change.  And, yes, I can do my part to embrace change and move it forward.  But I also need to get better at valuing what is, and what has been, without too eagerly pushing for what is to come.  Because change will inevitably come, whether I push or not.  And if I am present to it now and conscious now, I may have a better chance of guiding it into safer, saner pathways.  Or -- maybe that's not my job.  Perhaps my job is simply to appreciate and enjoy, and in doing that I may have exactly the positive effect that change requires.

I don't actually know.  But it's certainly something worth considering.  As Boris Pasternak says in his poem, "After the Storm,"

It is not revolutions and upheavals
That clear the road to new and better days,
But revelations, lavishness and torments
Of someone's soul, inspired and ablaze.

And now I see -- in trying to track down a quote from St. Francis I heard yesterday -- that he has something to say about all this, too:  “True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”
Yes.  Well, that's the hope, anyway!


M.L. Gallagher said...

As I read your blog the organ in the church across the road started to play. The church, the oldest in Barbados was built in the 1629, rebuilt in 1777 and still it stands. The organ is at least 100 years old, and the hymn they're singing just as old.

Time keeps moving -- and as you so beautifully put it, it is appreciating and accepting where it is right now that matters most in how we live our day.

for those worshippers in that church this morning -- it is not time that has endured but faith.


May your day be filled with moments cherished in the wonder of now. said...

Wow. That just sounds magical...