How did it get so late so soon? – Dr. Seuss
Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. – Coco Chanel
Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. – Jena Paul Sartre
“En in den beginne was er … tijd” — Translation: “In the beginning there was … time.” – JTW Sketchbook, 02/01/03
Time – it is the one thing that’s always there … in the beginning. But where it goes, thereafter, is anyone’s guess. You breathe it in, breathe it out, and then it’s gone, or so it seems. And, thus, in the test tube labeled “October,” this month evaporated like water. HOW? Perhaps the Bunsen burner was set too high … or perhaps there wasn’t enough water to begin with. Meanwhile, the great clock ticked, counting the minutes from three o’clock to four, while beating on walls, seeking a door.
As always, a mission begins with a plan. To Do Lists are diligently and optimistically scribed with all the visual beauty of the Magna Carta – written on paper, with just the right pen – and with the speedy blur of a lipstick kiss (for good luck), it’s a contract signed and sealed, and it all seems so simple: just connect the dots, 1, 2, 3 … these are the steps to get from here to there, the point being to gain control, to harness the energy of all those little ideas bungling around up there. You want to take them – these tiny sparks of inspiration – and weave them together like a string of pearls, each complete and perfect, each a success – something accomplished and checked off the list. And most often, this method, with a liberal touch of tenacity, works quite well.
But, in our excitement, we run hither and thither sniffing our way, down this path then that, without any landmarks to guide our route. Our peripheral vision recalls doors passed, as we sped too quickly in the wrong direction; yet, the maze method is undersold, I think, for although it induces panic it also stimulates and with senses peaked in our race to get there, we may miss the obvious but discover the new. We know there are answers, it’s just a matter of finding them. Our inherent treadmill snags our race-pace … so we nosedive and tumble, now and then, but without too much damage, just a bruise or two, we hop back on again for the ride, for the adventure, for the need to examine, for the need to explore. We know there are answers, it’s just a matter of seeing them. And we know there’s an end, for time defines endings like nothing else.
And then, after all that stumbling and fumbling and banging our pink noses against closed walls, if the maze method fails to turn up answers, we’ve, at least, a lot of data under our belts. Experience is never wasted, you see, but accumulates, like a bag of gold, to be used or saved as we need it. And so, when the grand clock beckons our gaze and we see clearly that the seconds are ticking, we’ve these wonderful nuggets all shining and pretty, all full with potential if only we knew which to choose or in which order they are meant to exist. … And this is the moment to shift perspectives. I may don, at this point, my explorer’s boots and climb a mountain for a vaster view. Or, through a microscope observe the mystery of all life’s wonders. The microscopic and macroscopic share patterns, it seems, and sometimes that’s all it takes – a new view from wherever – to find the smooth arrangement of things, to weave one’s ideas coherently into something that makes beautiful sense, and to fasten this glittering thing around one’s neck – this string of jewels – to like and to own it, and to smile then, for a job well done.
Years ago, at a street market, a friend and I discovered a gargantuan old bottle, round as a pig and as tall as my knee — it was beautiful, transparent and faintly tinted green. We labeled this vessel our “Jar of Accomplishments.” Optimistic though we were, we’d also a pragmatic streak, and rather than filling it with peas (our first thought), we filled it instead with the biggest giant lima beans to be found … And after 7 years they barely covered the bottom with 772 accomplishments. Excluding laundry and sweeping (accomplishments undersold) we’ve all each our own idea of what an accomplishment is… for with the word, accomplishment, comes a weight of variables, the greatest of which is time.
And although much was accomplished this month, with To Do Lists diligently checked, this Blog was sadly neglected. Well … no, that’s not true. Not true, at all. In fact I spent a great deal of time with it, really, but in obsessing on a subject I was not ready to explore, time tied me into a knot with that theme. Speeding down labyrinthine paths like a lab rat, my nose sorely bruised, I sought the solution for that idea for a while. Ideas, visceral as they be, hook one into a scarf of crazy patterns and although it is a wonderful journey jumping from one thread to the next, frankly, one must know when to set it aside, for now. … Because time spent beating walls looking for a door makes no sense at all. And, after all, time well spent is not just about putting another bean in the jar. It’s about putting the right bean in the jar, while enjoying the moment, a moment born from the past and the present and all the fond light that the future casts.