Some years ago I was looking at the remains of my father, lifeless in a box. He had met his final challenge and arrived at his final destination, death. Standing there I wondered about many things. I spent the period around that event in a surreal haze which, in time, cleared to make place for some questions. New questions. Different questions.
Life and dark
The question of ‘Am I using my time and days well?’ loomed large. I spent most of my time ‘head down bum up’ rushing hither and dither, but to what avail?
One hint of an answer came in a line from a friend during a recent visit. “How many people on their death bed say: ‘I wished I had spent more time in the office’?” This simple line had an interesting consequence. I realised I never take enough time to relax, always in the damn office so to speak, in one way or the other. Don’t really know how to take time off. Relax and enjoy that which is around me. A beautiful environment, friends, books, music and just ‘sitting quietly, doing nothing’. Allowing the creative space which surrounds me to colour in, at least, a part of my days.
Light and Death
It is interesting that it takes the ‘forever sleep’ of one person to wake up another. You are probably wondering why I am boring you with this rather personal stuff. Mainly because I recently realised that I am not the only one afflicted in this way. That many more in my community suffer from this ‘always working’ affliction. That none of them think they will say on their death bed: “I wish I had spent more time in the office”. This, of course, begs the question of what we will be saying, or wishing for. I, for one, want to move into a space where I do not have to wish at all. Into a space where I am content with what I am doing, and have done in my life. That I am content with how I ‘spend’ and ‘use’ my time.
But am I using my days well? Like today for instance. A normal everyday week day, but with a difference. It is one of those glorious spring days. A fresh clear morning followed by a warm sunny day. How do I spend such a day well. Enjoy it? Realising that it is happening? Acknowledging it? I decided to take some notice of the seasons and start this exercise by giving a ‘moment of wonder’ here and there some attention.
Life and dark
The Rain has washed the trees dustless, creating in the green a vibrancy which can be felt. The type of vibrant green when spring has restored the leaves to the trees. The sun shines gently warm and the blue of the sky has a soft edge. A seemingly perfect background for the grey thrush, with a song so clear, with a sound so clean, with a melody so charming, with a resonance so wide and overwhelming as to fill up, to the point of divine, the whole of the moment. A moment of wonder. Drink in this moment, hold it close to your heart.
Or the other other day, the rain barely a minute past. Very still. Each and every leaf on each and every tree, shrub and bush adorned with a bracelet of raindrops which, like minute clear globes of glass, reflected the whole of the world hundredfold. Everywhere is everywhere. Polish this moment, hold it close to your heart.
Light and death
Each day contains some magic. All we need to do is open our eyes to it and jump aboard while it passes by. How could we not take notice? How could we deny this? Why else are we here? Ride the beauty of the moment so that, when just before being in our own box, we will not feel any ‘regret’. Regret is and has always been an absolute waste of time. There are so many better ways of using the moment.
As the other evening a little before sunset. Imagine this: I watched at the edge of a lake while an old empty wooden boat, on fire, floated slowly across the still water mirror. A fisher man cremating his past? A moment filled brimful with poetic content. A sight where, for the moment, nothing else was needed. I held this moment close to my heart.
Life and dark
As the other morning, the sky the colour of slate, clouds so low the tops of the trees in the forest were invisible. As if the trees were suspended from the clouds. From this grey space huge colourful flowers dropped onto the ground, only to rise again a little later to re-enter that same space of nothingness. Fluttering feeding Rosellas. I held this moment in both hands.
None of this needs any economic rationale or development to be appreciated. Rather, it needs a tiny shift in attitude, or a smack in the head such as the death of a dear one, when all of a sudden a few things become clear. As clear as a drop of dew mirroring our dreams and the immense size of the world filled with moments of wonder. A world so much bigger than our concerns. If god created the world, surely he meant for us to see and enjoy it. If only in order to take care of the soul.
Light and death
It may be interesting to consider that our responsibilities are not always the ones we choose. It may also interesting to consider that every journey we take outside our own door contains another journey, this one hidden.
I take notes from one of my teachers. A big fat white goose who lives in the pond at the bottom of the garden. After all, when all is said and done, she finishes up in the same place as we all do. How does she spend her day? She floats on the water with the grace of a galleon. Then banks and performs the most exquisite ballet-like yoga exercises. While engaged in this, her shape becomes a living kinetic sculpture. She preens endlessly, then tucks her head under her wing, pulls one leg up under her feather skirt and snoozes her inner landscapes into reality. What is its purpose? What is its meaning? I take notes from another one of my teachers. Four year old Lutea in the garden who, after having struggled to open a long dark dried bean pod, stands there momentarily wondering unbelievingly at the beauty of a set of six polished purple and black beans lined up inside. Surprise! I try to keep my heart open for moments such as these.
Life and dark
I wish not ever to say: “I wish I had.”
Petrus Spronk is a local artist and sculptor who contributes a monthly column to The Wombat Post.