Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For Now

There is a time to wait and a time to act.

"Good things come to those who wait," sure. But they don't come out of a passive waiting; I'm not sure what comes to those who passively wait. Active waiting is dynamic. Active waiting is not really waiting at all, per se, but quiet, confident creation. There is relationship, always relationship in a dynamic. Therefore I am never alone. I am always in a dialogue with Life itself--with Love then, of course. Best case, I listen and respond when I catch a piece of Its dialogue.

Like two weeks ago when after claiming a registered letter I'd walked to The Post to collect, something said 'walk that way'--toward Herbert Park not toward home--so I did. But when I reached the intersection where I would cross to enter the Park, I was instead drawn left. Turning left put me on Ball's Bridge, namesake of this town of Ballsbridge, where when I cast my glance downward toward the water passing underneath I found treasure: a Great Blue Heron, close, fishing. I could say waiting for fish; after all, pretty much all it was doing was standing. But this standing for such marsh birds is a
watch, a very active sort of waiting I am calling fishing. Gorgeous gorgeous bird: I have never been so close to one. And a bit farther down the shore, two swans and their charges were sunning, lazily grooming now and then. Above all of them on a ledge were two nervous looking blackish birds I decided were starlings: beautiful creatures in their own right. I call all this a treasure because of the gasp of discovery that accompanied the experience of their world alongside, below. Others passed without giving them notice. Some looked simply because I was looking, whether or not they ultimately deemed the scene worthy of attention. No matter, I felt I had turned up the reason I was drawn onward. But still there was more.

After crossing Ball's Bridge, I continued straight toward who-knew-what. Before long, a commanding, regal looking building across the road attracted my eye. All that I could find to identify it were a poster and banners marked with an "RDS" logo announcing some event. I took mental stabs at what the letters might stand for: D was for Dublin, I supposed. R Dublin:
Royal Dublin? Royal Dublin what? I kept walking until some road repairs started making things messy and noisy. I crossed the street and turned back, making a point to read the RDS poster when I approached it.

The S was for Society as it turned out, and the poster announced an exhibition of award-
winning student art and craft work which would close at the end of the day after a two-week showing. I felt shy of gumption and funds, with no more than 6 euro in coins on my person, so I hesitated to venture inside. Something got the better of me though, and my feet moved toward the open door. I looked for a ticket counter but there was none, and a few more steps brought me together with some of the most exceptional, original, Life-filled works of (unquestionably, by any measure) art I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Wow. I kept feeling wow and wow and wow again as I moved from piece to piece. "Unbelievable!" I kept saying aloud--I couldn't contain myself. Textiles, wood carvings, furniture, metals, leather, pottery, glass, stone, traditional Irish lace, weaving, photography, paint, pencil, film: all mediums were represented. It was a feast for the senses and sensibilities.

Meanwhile, I'd left a sunny day outside. Dubliners seem trained to flock out of doors for sun like this, and I am a natural-born worshipper anyway. But not even the sun was enough to pull me away from this exquisite, arresting, compelling display. I was transfixed again and again and again. How easily I could have missed it! My hesitation getting the better of me, my feeling a 'stranger in a strange land,' unfamiliar in place and time and not in command of my environment, of my motions and actions within that environment, might've kept me away. I'm so glad they did not!

The effects on me of this exhibit, of the 'chance' of finding it, have been lasting. Beyond feeling irrevocably enriched by what I took in that day, I am left well reminded: the time for action is now, not later. The time is always now. And Dublin is turning out to be a very fine training ground for this, not the least reason being its weather.

Summers in Boston are typically replete with gorgeous, sunny days--lots of beach days. Not so here. In fact, I came already having decided I was going to hate the weather. In just a few weeks' time, I have discovered otherwise. I am finding the weather here passionate, and changeable to say the least--changeable beyond even my Bostonian context for the term. I can open the blinds mornings to blue sky and a puff of cloud here and there, only to look out and find that sky filled with a thick, dark overcast by the time I've reached the tea kettle. I move to the terrace to feel the sun on my skin, and no sooner have I lain books and computer and such on the table, I'm driven back inside by a drizzle of Irish mist. Other days I go off with our one very large umbrella (we've decided "Should we take the umbrella?" is a non question) then don't meet a speck of rain all day. (Go figure. On these days, I've noticed others aren't likewise encumbered.
How did they know? I am a long way from outsmarting the Irish weather.) But exceptions aside, weather here can pass almost as quickly as a paid advertisement. And so too the rainbows! --so easy to miss if you don't watch for them.Which brings me back on point. Dublin's weather offers good training to seize the moment. A day's agenda is best planned loosely, with room to rearrange so as to accommodate the sun which tends to arrive like a surprise though not-at-all unwelcome guest. Or it's the light across the mountains, or the spotlights of sun highlighting a patchwork square of green here or there that will stop me, have me calling out, "Come, come: don't miss it!!

I can say "there's always tomorrow" but it's not really true. Some things just don't wait, and
sometimes tomorrow doesn't come. To live like there's no tomorrow: I know no shorter route from thought to action. Dublin is constantly highlighting for me that life is now and now. The moments will pass whether or not I live them. The heron is ready to captivate at every turn, with or without a witness. The day--even the dish drainer--waits to be enjoyed, adored: just by virtue of itself it makes this invitation. I accept its invitation, or I do not. I enter the exhibition and I am changed by it, or I walk past. Ultimately, I know I entered because it was the last day: that closing date was what had me walk toward rather than away. How often I live as though there is no closing date. This can wait, and that can wait. There's always tomorrow. But the fact is, everything--everything--has a closing date, which in the basest analysis is the next moment. In the next moment, this one is over, and all the offers of this moment have expired.

No, I do not hate the Dublin weather after all.
Au contraire. I appreciate the Dublin weather for how it returns me to the urgency of living, for how it awakens me, sometimes repeatedly over the course of a day, to the richness, the abundance of offerings that each moment contains. Whether or not I accept or engage them, it is exquisite all the same even to live in their presence, arrayed before me like countless sparkling jewels. Simply present, there is no panic, no pressure to choose from among them, to make good use of them. The urgency is not to livelivelive every moment, in fact. The urgency is to simply be present to the inherent wealth of the moments. Present to them, they are mine. Separate from them, I am forever reaching and disquieted by a sort of bottomless hunger. Open to them, I am filled, truly satisfied.

The moments are already complete, every one of them. I am so grateful to be reminded of
this. What is there to want when I already have it all? Having all at my fingertips, the only question is what do I pick up, what do I choose to take intimately to my breast and feed, be fed by. Just now, I have picked up Darling on cello, the dish towel drying in wind, the fresh sausage to saute for a frittata that will be my midday meal, the garden fortified by newly-planted stock, Joyce in lines on pages awaiting my eyes, my hands for the turning. Right now this is my everything. And by the time these words find their way to print, my everything will be something else entirely, some other ordinary perfection so worthy of my love.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking me for a stroll through memory lane in “Dublin’s fair city.” To me every building appeared historic. The granite seemed as ancient as the island itself. It has withstood storms, wars and famines, first as shelter, then bringing people together.

Your essay makes me want to sit on any front step and listen to the building's story. Some of my favorites are at Trinity College, where my sister became a teacher. It was there she also learned her lessons about life and friendships, the ones that stick.

Your serendipitous visit to the Craft Show reminds me that I too can allow myself some down time for the artist in me. I recently purchased supplies to craft my own note cards. I already filed them in a plastic bucket as “Silly” and shoved them under the bed as a low priority. Maybe today is the day to create one and send it to someone who has helped me out in the past.

The photo of the brown bread makes my mouth water. Have a slice for me since I could never get enough of it. Best with some butter and lots of marmalade. I can still taste the rich nutty flavor that my landlady kneaded into each loaf. She used buttermilk in her recipe. It always turned out to taste like mother milk.

And thank you for the reminder of the camera with its instant capture of delicious bites of life. It works faster than a microwave and can be enjoyed and digested over and over again.


8:32 AM  

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