It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.
I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.
Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
I’m a work horse, always have been. When others are playing and partying and relaxing, I’m busy busy busy. This is not so much a moral imperative for me but a consequence of the depression era family in which how I grew up — Aesop’s fable grasshopper/ant parable personified. If I don’t keep my nose to the grindstone now, what might happen down the road, as winter comes, when there is no one else to do what needs to be done, when there is not enough of anything needed to survive? Making hay and raising tomatoes indeed. That’s only the half of it. It is fertilizing, cultivating, harvesting, storing, preserving and then starting all over again. I don’t know how else to be or how else to live. And yes, there can be a fair amount of indulgent sulking.
So, true to obsessive form, I picked a profession that encourages this kind of behavior. A sixty hour work week is typical, with responsibilities 24/7. I don’t often allow time to stalk the gaps, enjoy the view, and let life flow over me like a never ending stream. Even a theoretical “afternoon off” as I’m supposed to have built into my schedule once a week rarely materializes.
Today is my scheduled afternoon off. Unstructured, uncommitted, open time. Yikes.
I’m going to spend it rather than losing it forever. It can’t be banked, stored away, preserved for the future or otherwise saved like an ant loves to do. Once it is gone, it is gone and it will never return. It is mine to spend.
I have no idea what to do with it but I’ll figure it out.
Or simply just be.
And definitely not sulking.