Friday, December 31, 2010

This Moment

This is the last post of 2010.

Just as when I was a child, I feel a sense of momentousness as the old year ticks away and a sense of foolishness, too. Momentous it is, for this year 2010 was a wonderful one for me and FF. It will now become an entry in a blog, some photos in a binder, perhaps fading little by little from memory as new concerns and events take hold in my mind. Foolish it is, too, as I realize that these clumsy time markings of ours are just man-made attempts to observe, control and even to stop the mystifyingly quick passage of our lives.

Time is not real. Only this breath, this moment. Only this room in the old stone house in Tiny Town is real. Only this fire in our little hearth is certain. The fire itself is a wonder, never staying the same for even a second, the gases released from the log leap and dance while the spirit of the tree it once was rises up, igniting and extinguishing itself simultaneously. The orange, mumbling fire, never still, is the very essence of constant change.

Once a year we watch midnight come, as if this time we might hold it in our hands and have more time to examine that moment, turn it over and really look at it, and perhaps make the world stand still. I think we all have a deep urge to find a way to make time stop, to take one moment and to be able to understand it fully and quietly before pressing that play button again that sends us hurtling into the next, barely comprehended moment.

As a child, I always felt as if my moments were tumbling by too quickly for me to understand them. Vacations, school days, holidays, birthdays, or just nice days in brief space of time seemed to appeal to me to keep them, to not let them slip through my fingers. And worst of all were those decisive moments like graduations, a golden summer afternoon, a twilight whiffle ball game, hearing mother say "They've shot the President", or saying goodbye to Grandpapa for the last time. Those were mad days when I thought "This here is important, wonderful, irreplaceably great and/or terrible, and I must pay attention." And yet, despite the gravity of the moment, the time slipped past as if it were any day, as if the importance of things to me was, ultimately, of no importance at all to the universe.

And so the moments, consequential and ordinary, flew by at the same incomprehensible speed for me, and I was lost to nostalgia for the day before the sun even set.

Now, right now, I am sitting in front of the fireplace with my husband. It is our first New Year's Eve as a married couple, and we are spending it in our house in Tiny Town. There is gentle music playing in the background, an orange fire in our grate, and we are writing our way towards midnight in companionable silence, sharing the old red desk chair to prop our four feet up in front of the warm grate. Oh yes, this moment of contented domesticity is one that I would stop and turn over and over like a pebble in my hands. He sighs slightly as he writes, the logs crackle softly, the wooden flute music fills our living room, and all is well. Such moments would be worth stopping not because they marked a grand separation, but just because they were full of ordinary sweetness.

Certainly, as I get older I am less drawn to those spotlighted, decisive moments and more to the ordinary and everyday. In the quotidian moments of our days here in Tiny Town I have flashes in which I achieve a sense of timelessness, in which I understand that there is no then and now, only this moment in all its perfect roundness, eternal and comfortingly real, always accessible. When I have this glimpse of eternity, I do not need to hold onto any moments, not even the moment this year when FF and I said "I do" or the dropping of a ball on Time Square. Not even this lovely picture of two newly married people in front of a fire. I let them all go, because at last I see that not only can I not hold them, but even more wonderfully, they are not really going anywhere.

So there will be no goodbyes, 2010. You've been a great year, but we both know that you're going to accompany me on to what we'll agree to call 2011, and on and on until I grow tired and have to stop contemplating time and become part of eternity again. Time isn't going anywhere: It's just us, always on a train to somewhere, like the fidgety creatures that we are and always were meant to be.

Happy New Year from Tiny Town to all of you. Peace to you, wherever you may be.

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