Productivity as Diversion

on
Just to be is a blessing.
RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL

I have an hour to myself now.

White wine, and blueberries. And noise-cancelling headphones, because the roofers are still laying the new shingles in neat and shiny rows. I am completely aware of the decadence on display in those sentences. And in the fact that we were able to run this morning on the nearly deserted beach.

I found myself thinking it was unusually quiet, and then realized it was unusually quiet. The weather is soft today, so the waves roll in quietly. But the real difference is that there are far fewer planes coming in to land on the other side of the dunes.

Sometimes we don’t know what we are missing until we have it.
Things like quiet.

We ran past a young woman who stopped and tried to distract her new puppy, with it’s huge paws and boundless curiosity: “What are they running toward?”

I think about anticipation. About Christmas mornings, and secret desires. Isn’t that what we are running toward? Isn’t that what we need to cling to: the belief that something good is around the bend, even if you just passed that way minutes ago –

a tern has landed and now runs back and forth with the tide,
a piece of driftwood shaped like dragon’s head has either just washed ashore,
or you missed it before while laughing –
or tripping in the soft sand

I inhale: one, two. And exhale: one, two, three, four. A rhythm takes over and movement seems effortless. No pushing. Everything is breath, and the world is autonomic: the gusts of wind, the flow of the tides, the beating of the seagull’s wings – each individual, all complementary.

It has been a long time since I’ve felt this calm.

If this were a private diary I would be writing about sex now. About hormone patches, and accepting these new lessons of physical pain, as the lessons of youth’s psychological pains are past.

Passed, even.

It’s Monday in the autumn break and I have an ambitious list of accomplishments to tick off this week. I also know that I am not going to do even half of them. Though I expect I will manage to fold the laundry, if for no other reason but to keep the peace.

To be completely honest, I keep finding more things to put on that list so I will have an excuse not to do the one single thing that I am afraid to do.

There’s a book in the making. Too long “in the making”.
Even while the planes are grounded, and the classrooms are locked, it is easy to find distractions in a list of tasks that need doing.

Oh, this is hard to avoid, but: I find myself “waiting for Christmas”.

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