02 January 2017

A Small New Year's Revolution

I've just discovered a grossly stupid common error (God knows I've made enough of them).

Surely every break we get, in this breakneck orgy of speed we call Modern Society, ought to be savored for all it's worth? Or at least to whatever degree we find the leisure, humility and wisdom to savor anything? (A dubious enough proposition these days.)

How blind we are, then, to treat any universally acknowledged milestone - like, obviously, the first day of a new year - as just another "day in the life." How blind, if even here we see no opportunity to pause, and put in reverse - to ruminate, to take stock (or even re-stock), to be grateful, or graceful, or remorseful. To recall the thing that gave us the most resonant (if not the most scintillating) pleasure. And why we've since then continued to avoid or detour round it. To find that remote, secret arbor, in whose silence we can see and hear through - past all the whirring cogs, belts and blades - to the vehicle's actual movement. Maybe at last even figure out (provided we get close enough to the Cross-roads) where the contraption's going.

Not that everyone's necessarily moving quite that fast, or so (perhaps quite literally?) Hell-for-leather. But even one who is house-bound may be able to look out of a window. Every morning of every day - even if you're stuck in the house - can be a kind of window into grace, freshness, innocence. Surely today is as good a time as any to ask yourself three questions all but guaranteed to puncture even the stuffiest, stubbornest, bullyingest routine:

1) Who, and (perhaps more importantly) WHAT, am I?

2) Have I been created for anything?

3) Is my present endless monotony of urgent tasks even remotely satisfying either of the above questions? Much less making happier the one who's asking?

If there's one thing I've learned over the course of a somewhat long and not terribly productive life, it's that there is no illusion more domineering, or more disappointing, than that of an unbreakable routine. Today's Global Busyness promises that unbroken stream: an endless continuity of tasks, systems, operations, agendas, that seem to cradle and buffer us - though in fact, as often as not, they cut us into little segments (when they're not tearing us to pieces). And then all of a sudden - earthquake, fire, flood, illness, job loss, a revolution, a baby - all of a sudden the Big Wheel stops, on the proverbial dime. Sometimes, rudely enough, when we're not anywhere near dead or dying.

It is the nature of whatever domineers over us to be most convincing when it masquerades as some all-consuming urgency. And these days, what could be less urgent, or more disruptive of a busy life-plan, than a pregnancy unplanned? But see now, here we have a new God-child, who comes not to consume us, but to be our bread. Imagine it: an infant seeking not to eat but to feed! And lo, He may even want to play with us, if we have the time. Besides, He's been known to carry with Him an urgency all His own. Given what we already know of that high Summons, is it perhaps high time - even this New Year - we stopped heeding that of the Dominator?

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