In the Last Hours of the Decade: Everyday Magic, Day 992

When I was kid, I fantasized about the year 2000, so far away it was almost unimaginable. Having a birthday in the tail-end of 1959, I thought about how I would be 40 then, so very old, over a decade older than my mother at the time. Now we’re about to tip over the cusp of 2020, I’ve just turned 60, and the unbelievability of time is still a deal for me. Walking across my deck in the cold, bright late light of the afternoon, year, and decade, I was struck by the magic of time travel from the kid I still very much am and what I seem to be now.

But that’s how time is: a human invention although the seasons born of the turning of the earth, the growth of the trees, and the motion of rocks moving slowly across oceans or fields keep their own kind of count. The closest I can come is through the animal nature of this being human thing: my skin has clearly aged, parts of the body shifting upward and mostly downward. Scars and wrinkles, freckles or pimples, veins more apparent in my limbs and hearing less apparent in my ears all say things have indeed changed. Yet I’m happy for each mark and sign that I’m aging, having had more than a glimpse of the alternative.

I’ve wrestled twice with cancer, this past year in my eye and 17 years ago in my breast, and in both situations, I thought of Jacob in the Old Testament, who shows us what it means to keep wrestling with whatever dangerous angel shows up until we can extract a blessing from the encounter. Other brushes with mortality have likely changed me more than the pull of gravity and other weathering of my body. Then again, such encounters are their own pulls of gravity. The fantastical magic of time is best understood in relationship to where we truly are, in a place, in a body, in a community, and mostly in relation to the here and now.

Which brings me around to this moment: the western horizon golds itself up into the darkening blue. The bare branches, finally still after a windy afternoon, hold birds roosting out of sight. The cats sleep on my bed between giving me dirty looks for being a few minutes late in feeding them. All over my time zone and in many others wheeling toward midnight, people are putting on sparkly shirts to go out or fluffy slippers before putting their feet up, a book balanced on their laps. All over the time zones already launched into 2020, people are sipping champagne or coffee or the bitterness of hunger, despair, and pain. All the same, many if not most humans probably have some awareness that it’s a new time, which is actually obviously always true but more clear to us at moments like this.

We travel together, arriving in our own time at what’s next, often not understanding fully how we got here, but knowing that gravity and that beautiful yearning to live and do something of meaning had something to do with it. May we all unpack ourself in the new year with greater kindness, peace, gratitude, and imagination.

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Thanksgiving, Time & Gratitude: Everyday Magic, Days 129-130

Having just about come to the end of this holiday, I’m thinking about gratitude and time. As time goes on, what I’m grateful for increases, and gratitude lives within the context of time: all we love changes all the time.

What I mean by this is that there’s great forces of life, love, motion, age and change happening constantly, and when I can expand my vision beyond my normal churning thoughts (e.g. will everyone I love be okay, am I good enough, am I living right, and who do I pray to when I need a parking space?), I can connect with how grateful I am to alive.

Case in point: sitting in the living room at my mother-in-law’s after the big meal, about 13 of us easilyy tossing each other some humor like it was a balloon. There were some almost awkward silences, but there no one much tried to fill the gap with television or other distractions. We all just kept hanging out, talking about whatever came up, even if it it was just our favorite TV show. I couldn’t help thinking about my father-in-law, gone not quite two years, and how his absence may be helping us appreciate one another more because we all know how tenuous life can be. In the corner, I glimpsed my niece napping, curled up around her mother; my son talking into the ipad and making it turn his voice into Alvin and the Chimpmonks; my mother-in-law smiling even when she couldn’t hear everything; and the cold sky outside shining in through the windows my sister-in-law recently cleaned.

Just an hour ago, Ken came in and said he had a moment coming upstairs from the basement when he saw how everything we live is something we create together, a kind of construct that seems so sturdy and yet is fragile. It makes me think of the poem in the film Wings of Desire, that asks, “Why am I me and not you?” We land places, take root or migrate elsewhere, make lives that seem all-encompassing. Sturdy and fragile because of time. Beautiful and alive nevertheless.

Smoke Gets In Your Moon: Everyday Magic, Day 127

Last night, we took a moonlight/cloud light walk, and I saw something I’d never seen before: as thin clouds passed over the moon, they started smoking away, as if the moon were a ball of fire and the clouds were simply scared smoke. I know the moon literally didn’t make the clouds do this (although I’m hard-pressed to explain what did), but it was amazing to behold. The clouds were more fluid than I had ever seen them, the moon steady in its slow travel, and the sky around it rushing past like a high-speed river. We stood beneath it all, heads tilted up, WTF-expressions on our faces, dazzled by the quick-changing world at this moment.

What Will You Do With Your One Wild & Precious Hour?: Everyday Magic, Days 112-113

I double-dipped on the extra hour by coming back from New York earlier this week and picking up the extra hour I left by the gate when flying out of the central time zone, and now today, another extra hour! To paraphrase Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” that ends with the question, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” here’s what we’re doing at our house:

  • Miyako, the little cat, is spending her extra hour attacking Judy, the big cat, in the ongoing war of being our home’s top cat. Since Judy attacked Miyako mercilessly when Miyako was younger, it’s payback time. We do break up the fights whenever we can.
  • Mariah, the dog, is sleeping.
  • Forest is catching up on homework.
  • The front porch is dreaming of purple flowers.
  • I’m going to clean the basement because, if the house is the metaphor for the life and the body, then the basement is either first chakra or the soul, and it needs major tidying.
  • Ken is planning to write an article for Blue Sky Green Earth.
  • The wind is up and running, doing its own version of the New York marathon in Kansas.
  • The hedge apple tree over our parking place is going to drop its final osage oranges after already breaking Ken’s windshield.
  • The apples on the counter are bathing in sunlight, unaware of how they may just be baked later on.
  • The greenhouse is begging us to water all the plants just moved in from the outside.
  • The big red rock on the side of the drive is considering its options.
  • The refrigerator is dancing a jig when no one is watching.
  • A doe is planning to walk through our swing set area to survey the bird feeder up ahead where she’ll return all winter to snack on fallen seed.
  • Several flocks of blackbirds are migrating a little further today.
  • The sewing machine and pile of fabric are singing out to me to give them a life for a while.
  • The laundry is dreaming of transformation.

So that’s the news on our plans here. How will you use your one and precious hour?