TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
I hope that each and every one of you is safe and taking as many appropriate steps to stay that way as possible.
The Steve Miller Band classic reminds us that : “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future…”
After parsing the ridiculous rally (news briefing) given by our so-called leader, I realize that it is up to us. Courageous healthcare professionals; experts keeping the power up and running; workers putting themselves at risk to insure that groceries are available; savvy governors and mayors and town councils; it is going to take all of us, collectively, as aware citizens to make the thoughtful choices that are not about politics but about survival. And not just about surviving but surviving well, with our humanity intact.
“There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows
THE WORK OF PLAYING
Play or simply “messing about” reduces tension, helps put a situation into perspective, and sparks the imagination which, in turn, can produce solutions to the problem at hand.
I remember instructional survival clips that aired regularly when I grew up in Alaska. Those Coast Guard films included play as part of the way a stranded person can keep it together. While waiting for rescue or working out a plan to hike out of a dire situation, play became important. After injuries are addressed, supplies inventoried, food and water secured and shelter established, the need to laugh, to lighten up, to recreate was highlighted as imperative.
“A story isn’t about a moment in time, a story is about THE moment in time.” W.D. Bellwether
My personal work and play are intricately connected. One doesn’t really happen without the other.
5… 4… 3… 2… 1 …
Every story has a countdown. Every launch. Every action and reaction. Many writers and students of writing talk about the beats in a story. Poets refer to the iambic pentameter. The heartbeat of a tale is found in rising and falling action, events and consequences.
It is the finite nature of a story that winds us up. After all, there is only so much time to spend in that dimension of suspended disbelief, that very particular magic realm.
In seventh grade I wrote and entered a play in a fall talent show. It was about the end of the world. And wouldn’t you know it? The actors, donned in leotards and tights, followed the script perfectly. Our short play concluded with a countdown. I marveled from stage-right as the entire audience (and no audience can be more cynical or fickle than thirteen and fourteen year olds) chanted in unison five… four… three… two… one… BLASTOFF.
I was enamored with that roar, that joyful participation in my somewhat dark survival tale: only a few humans made it off the planet before utter destruction. After that riotous audience response I was happy to remain earthbound and left to my fate of incineration.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
It might be gardening and preparing for the tasks of spring, or baking in order to nurture those around you with comforting aromas and restorative tastes, or toiling in order to get each word right in a story that you hope lives to see the light of day: such efforts are what see us through. Taking the time elevates our sense of purpose.
“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss
The hours we spend cherishing our families and friends, even when we are far apart – that time sustains us. It matters. Every life contains a clock.
And so the Writer Elkhound reminds me that it is time to return to my revision work, with fifteen minute breaks reserved to throw a tennis ball for an energetic elkhound. And moments are allotted, now and then, to admire hummingbirds as they zip overhead.