the stream I go a-fishin’ in*

The Stream photo-art by Cate Storymoon

“Einstein said that he could never understand it all.”
(James Taylor)

The secret o’ life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothin’ to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill,
But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride…” **

It’s all about time, the great equalizer,  that ineffable stratum that caused even Albert Einstein to scratch his wooly head.  It’s Tempus, who fugits about without our permission. We write about time, we sing about time. We save it and waste it; we worry about it, oh lawdy-lawdy how we do that, and to little avail.  Time is. It’s my cocoon, my mansion, my prison and my playground. Yours too, depending upon  the head-heart space you inhabit at any given moment. And if Einstein can’t figure it out, how in the blazes are we supposed to reckon with it?

 “Repent!” demanded Harlan Ellison’s relentless, ruthless Ticktockman.  I try to resist, but wristwatches are my “Catcher in the Rye”. More on this in a tad.

My Left Brain is obsessed with time. I creatively sublimate her beastly preoccupation by transforming those concerns into scientific and artistic investigation and play.  Hey!  It works for me.  At least, that is the story I tell. Call me Ms. Valiant-for-Time. It’s not a perfect solution, but, but knowledge is power, I tell myself.  Between you and me, I know it’s only a sneaky way for Lil’ Left Brain to pretend she’s bested it.  I’m not fooled.  Time will pass whether I turn it into symbol and art or not, so damn those chronometers,…  into the breach I daily go.  It’s my way.

Time-hoarder me  amasses books on the subject. And there’s that embarrassing  collection of timepieces in both Second Life and in that other so-called real life paradise I call:  The Happy Planet.  Every day I navigate shelves and boxes full, piles of  hit-me-over-my-pumpkin-head symbolism.  I also have personal relationships with my timepieces, naming them  Harlan, Isaac, Pema, Pablo and so on.  When one is damaged or goes missing,  I grieve.  That sort of on-going loss sucks, so to remedy it I have imposed a years-long moratorium on new acquisitions.  Avoidance and denial are  friends, and I challenge you to get through one day without a little snuggle from one or the other.  Chuckle if you will, gentle reader.   Even during my intense collecting period, I rarely wore them.  I have not worn a watch in more than thirty years.  Maybe an hour here or there, okay? I don’t understand the mechanism, but possessing them calms me. Flying in the face of this, when I’m  well and rested, I always know what time it is, plus or minus five minutes without a glimpse of watch, clock, cel phone, news channel ticker, or microwave oven. It’s a nifty trick in today’s world, where those digits leer at us constantly.  My internal metronome whirrrrrs on just fine without anything strapped to my wrist as a reminder, thank you very much. I’m tick-tick-ticking, sixty beats every adagio minute.

I am a timepiece, see? because I am a musician. Musicians are all from another planet where time is concerned. On top of that, Life’s Little Soundtrack plays within me — incessantly. I’m capable of annoying random people  anywhere on the planet with my finely-honed talent of breaking into song to match every moment, every mundanity.  Call it a character defect if you must. Trust me, there is music for every tick-tock of life. I’ll apologize in advance now for waxing musical while blogging.  Bless you for your forbearance. It’s me.  My beloved ones in all worlds accept this about me with compassion and knowing smirks.

Music is the math one does without knowing one is doing math.  It’s one way to master Tempus while running our human race.  I began to learn how when I was very young.  So young, in fact, that I remember few details of my early training.  I don’t recall it ever being difficult.  Mind you, I don’t think I was a prodigy. Virtuosity is rare, but mastery is not.  Short story — I didn’t quit.  Time passed.  Ease and mastery came. And the music-time dyad lives at the DNA-level of my being, “to soothe the savage breast, soften rocks or bend knotted oaks”. (William Congreve)

Bear with me now as I climb out of my tangential hole.  Perhaps it’s not a hole at all, but rather the natural course of any effort to speak meaningfully about the slippery entity we call time.  Our great equalizer. Really, I can only jabber about time from my overlook.  I’m not qualified to do anything but recite the hard science I’ve read, and what fun is that? The fun for me is in the creation of quirky pictures rife with metaphor.  And sometimes — in some moments — I can peek out from my temporal cocoon, and stretch into time-space to blow kisses into the Cosmos.  I like that our experiences wearing Time like a comfortable garment are unique to each of us.  So cool! I hear you singing with Albert and JT and me:

“The thing about time is that time isn’t really real.  It’s all on your point of view.
How does it feel for you in there? (Yeah).” 

I’m grateful for time, and not just because it’s the perfect cosmic solution to everything happening all at once.   How does it feel for you in there?

Cate ❤️

* title is a quotation snippet from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

**  All lyrics quoted throughout are the work of James Taylor from his song The Secret o’ Life

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Ask the enlightened. Go on… Ask them.

Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on.  Get drunk. (Rumi)

Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.
(Rumi)

“I’m so grateful for everything you’ve ever given me…” So sings Sir Paul McCartney in Gratitude .  Countless artists, some movers-and-shakers, myriad humble monks and mystics throughout ages of ages all seem to agree. Their words vary, but the message remains.  Gratitude is everything. We only need reminding.  I know I do.  The din of everyday can become an enormous weight upon our hearts.  Its cacophony cancels out melodies that ears can hear with ease when we are not immersed in ‘fear of’…  this calamity, that tragedy, this potential conflict, that bad guy… no!  THAT one, over there!  See???

I hear your objections already  — easier said than done to remain in a state of gratitude.  I disagree.  The difficulty is not about gratitude, it’s about the space we have each and all learned to live in, particularly in the so-called ‘Enlightened West’  As Mohandas K. Gandhi is quoted as saying when asked what he thought about Western Civilization – “I think it would be a good idea.”

How then to increase our own personal moments of gratitude for simple being, and for the miraculous beingness of others, when the cultural loudspeakers blare fear, distraction, savagery and banality at us from cradle-to-grave?  This is what works for me:

  • When I wake-up I take a moment to breathe mindfully before standing to engage the day.  My goal is to etch the day with what Buddhist’s refer to as “gap time”. The gap is now.  Every moment of every day is now. By setting an intention to freely move into gap time and gap space, I facilitate easier mobility into and out of a waking mindfulness and focused attention that is needed for the challenges of my everyday life.
  • Throughout my waking time I take moments to feel my feet on the floor or the ground, feel my butt on the couch, feel the water on my hands as I wash them, as I water the garden, as I wash the dinner dishes.  Again, it’s about mindfulness – focus, and all about purposeful breathing as I’m feeling all that stuff.  Such a concept.  It’s just breathe, breathe, breathe all the time.
  • When family demands, or traffic stress, or confrontational malarky with any walking wounded others, ad infinitum — at these moments, I remind myself to pause.  Pausing creates a gap where I can choose how I want to respond to the eddies of my ‘life’.

With these intentional actions in place I am constantly freed up to appreciate the miracles of being that are never gone, but for so many are impossible to see amid the distractions, or hear beneath the noise of what’s often taken for granted as “just how it is”.   My ability to appreciate without judgment what my amazing sensory system perceives is the foundation of my state of gratitude. Without this mindful relishing it is easy to fall into patterns of event-react-event-react that is all too common for our species here on The Happy Planet.  I’ve been there. I’m not going back.

The energy that comes from the center of mindful me, that surrounds me, and radiates outward from me changes everything.  I consider it my cosmic imperative to be centered in the gap while mindfully living with the people I love and the people I meet, and the people I’ve only simply heard about who live lands away.

I don’t glow with other-worldly light (at least I don’t think I do).  I don’t levitate. But, if you understand the interconnectedness stories of ripples in a pond, butterfly wings in the Sahara and such, my heart-mind-self knows that mindful and grateful moments change everything.  I’m not going to wax on about quantum affinities and entanglements, but it’s all about those too!

So, for right now, I am in gratitude for everything I can perceive, and I’ve made room for all that’s out of range for the moment.   Thank you for reading.  Thank you for being.  Oh! And don’t forget to breathe.  ♡

Cate