On my morning walk a few days ago, I chanced upon a small tortoise crossing the road. He (she?) was a very small tortoise and to him the road must have seemed like a concreteSahara, but he was furiously inching forward. Even when I picked him up to move him to the grass on the other side, those stubby feet kept moving. For a tortoise, he was hurrying for all he was worth.
Tortoise trundles on,
Claws digging into concrete,
Eyes on goal ahead.
Hurry seems to be the watchword of our times. People everywhere are in a hurry to get somewhere or to do something, and I am no exception. There always is a multiplicity of things to be done, so each must be done quickly in order to move on to the next. Even when on holiday, schedules become crowded with things to see and waiting experience so that while I am enjoying something I am very often thinking of what comes afterward.
Suppose there is an idle moment? Ah, but isn’t there that awful old saw that idle hands are the devil’s playground? I don’t believe this, of course, but the Puritan work ethic is insidious and sneaks into that lovely, peaceful, do-nothing afternoon. Hey, whispers the niggling voice of my conscience, what about the article you were supposed to write? And what about weeding the garden before it gets too hot? And who is going to clean out the closet if you sit around and twiddle your thumbs?
It wasn’t always so. When I was young, I would climb a certain magnolia tree in my parents’ garden and sit in its fork to daydream. Children still have the capacity to enjoy each moment for its own sake. Our grand daughters can sit and with their dolls and enter a world so wonderful that it holds them in thrall or write a story or become absorbed in an art project. Our grandson, though he is now in his teens, can still disappear into a book and stay submerged for hours.
But what about adults? On my walks I often see men and women striding along while all the time talking on their cell phones. In restaurants, all four diners at the same table may be talking on cell phones (which is another topic altogether,) or texting someone. Moments that might be spent absorbing nature or interacting with friends are lost. As for me, I have to wonder how often I really pay full attention to the here and now or truly listen to a friend’s conversation without hurrying to think of my own response?
Well, you may well object, what world do you live in, lady? Sometimes we need to hurry! You are right. Children need to be picked up, a business meeting must be attended, schedules must be kept or chaos will result. There are plenty of times when, like our friend the tortoise, we need to glue our eyes to the road ahead and keep our feet moving—after all, slow and steady did win the race. Still, there are other times, aren’t there? Times when we can stop what we are doing, draw breath, and fill our eyes and hearts with the beauty of a dawning sky, or the majesty of waves crashing onto a beach, or savor every precious moment of lunching with a friend? Surely there are times and places where we can rest and refresh the spirit and simply be?
I think I need to find a magnolia tree again.
Watching the sunset
Paint the sky scarlet and gold,
Locking world away.