Monday, July 28, 2008

The Thing About Time


Here's another guest post from Douglass St. Christian.

I think it's appropriate that he's talking about time, given how pressed for that commodity I'm feeling these days.  Between getting organized for a slightly complicated move and getting used to a new, demanding job, I don't have a lot of time to devote to blogging.

I am getting used to the job, though.  And the move is starting to come together.  So please be patient with me.  I'll check in here whenever I can, and get back to a regular schedule as soon as possible.

Here's Douglass:

The thing about time is...

I think we take it much too seriously.

I came to thinking about this recently because of an odd chain of events.  We decided to stop using our dishwasher, which even with ecologically friendly washing powder, has a harsh effect on our carbon and chemical footprint.  And then something odd happened on the way from the dish soap shelf at Gentle Rain to my kitchen sink.  I discovered something about time.

I keep an odd schedule, a hangover from when I commuted from Toronto to London four mornings a week.  I am usually up at 4:30 in the morning.  I turn on the coffee pot, feed the cats and take the dogs for a quick walk.  And now I also do the dishes from the night before.

The first few times it seemed like something of a chore.  And then I had a moment.  I was wiping off some cups and I felt the warmth of the water, the gentleness of the soap - we use a chamomile and marigold dish liquid - and the sight of green light coming through the arbour outside our kitchen window.  And suddenly, I was in the moment.  Time did not stand still - instead, I was inside the moment in time, fully and somewhat unexpectedly.  Now I look forward to those ten minutes or so with the dish cloth and the warm water.  I sometimes even whistle while I am doing it, though when that happens, it is a good thing it is early in the morning and no one else is around.

In the 1740's, Lord Chesterfield offered the following advice to his son:  "There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time."

To Chesterfield, singular focus was not merely a practical way to structure one's time, it was a mark of intelligence, while "hurry, bustle and agitation are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind."

That odd singularity that caught me off guard while I was doing my dinner dishes, in a sink, by hand, at 5:00 in the morning brought me into contact with a sense of time I fear all the daily multi-tasking we seem trapped in has hidden from us.

Maybe time is like a muscle... if you don't exercise it, it goes all flabby.  Maybe that's what doing the dishes is reminding me of.

Until next time....


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