Friday, 19 September 2008

"The totality is present even in the broken pieces."

1989. The year I graduated high school. A few grey hairs and laugh wrinkles ago. How did time disappear? A question for the old, for those facing their mortality--and for me: Did I do enough with the time I've had so far?

These days, I stay up until an ungodly hour, staring at this screen, trying to avoid the fact that the present moment will be tomorrow soon. That there are countless things I haven't done, said, written, felt, thought. That my bed is calling my name. That the day is done and there's little else that can be squeezed out of it now. Morning brings more of the same routine, less and less time for what I want. I don't want it to come. Not yet! I'm not ready for you, day. Keep your low-angled light away from my window. Keep your early shadows away from my walls, creeping with languid fingers, making me ache in places your radiation cannot reach.

When I finally slide into the bed, softly, as though I'd only gotten up to use the bathroom, the sky is lightening. The children are stretching and squeaking. Tell them it's still the middle of the night, honey, and put them back in bed, would you?

The question comes back again at eleven, when I should be planning lunch. Did I do enough? I know I didn't. I know I can't possibly. I don't want to waste moments swept up like the crumbs left under the table...but...a book, Mommy, read this book, please? I can't put her off long, either. She is part of that doing. Part of the enough. Already her older sister is hardly home, anymore. And when she is, she's reading, enclosed in her magical world of words. I know that world. I've lived there, and I still visit when I can hide in the bathroom long enough with a book. But I miss her. She's still so young.

At night, I put the little one to bed first, curling next to her in her tiny toddler bed, snuggled up with a good book. Turn on sleepy music and lay on the floor, holding her hand through the railing until she's still and sighing softly. Take the booklight from big sister and lay next to her, exchanging soft Mommy kisses for an arm squeezed tight. Trying to stay awake with thoughts of incomplete power points, notes to prepare, script revisions, blog posts, overdue administrative paperwork. Emails and updates. My lover keeping company with the flatscreen, watching our favorite series. And, oh yeah, the household that peeks out from under papers and dust, wondering when I'll give it attention, too.

In front of the screen again, the album has ended. Start another. The solitare game lost. Start another. Just another fifteen minutes more, I promise myself. Michael drops a kiss on my head and shuffles off into the dark hallway. Game lost again, I hit replay. Now it's midnight. Eyes barely open. And words barely begun. Pulled down by the weight of exhausted sleeplessness. I don't want to go. Not yet.

Reluctant, I pull the earbuds out like pulling a bath plug. Shut down the game. Hibernate the computer. Resigned. Did I do enough? Not nearly. Honestly, I don't even feel like I really tried. I'm just too damned tired.

But the big picture is there. I can see where I was just months ago, how far I've painted this new road across the canvas, covering old paint with new, brighter images. I suppose that to see the changes I'll have to step back. Put the pointillist's painting in perspective and see the beauty of the full scene. Wide angle shot. All of the screen at once. And? Did I do enough?

Ah, my sweet loves. Yes, I did. I kiss their softly-tousled brown locks. All three of them. Sweaty with sleep, cheeks rounded, eyebrows raised in dreams. There will always be time for more words.

I nestle under the down comforter, cold feet as close to my dear as I dare. Asleep in minutes. To do it all again tomorrow.

Resolved? Not by a long shot. Resigned, for the moment. It won't last, I'm sure of that. Life rarely finds, and even more rarely maintains, an equilibrium. That, at least, I can count on. I saw it when I stepped back. Keep momentum and the road will keep unfolding. Long ahead and behind, yet constantly rolling toward the horizon and over the edge of Earth's curve. Check the map--I'll get me there, eventually.

I've done enough for today.

The dreams come. And I wake suddenly, startled. The next story! Head falling back. Eyes close. Asleep. And gone. The shadow of an idea relegated to the lost associations of slumber.

The next morning, I rise with an itch. Have I forgotten something? I sit in front of the computer where the words refuse to come.

And I start all over again.

[title quote by Aldous Huxley]

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