Kicking the can.

October 19, 2020 § 5 Comments

These days my life keeps moving the way a can kicked down the street does. I pick out a direction. It may be random, over there being little different from where the can currently rests inert. But I crave the more active kind of inertia; inertia of motion. So I haul back, take aim, and kick—and I send that can flying!

It is satisfying to watch it arc, tumble through the air, land with a clatter. Then I get to trot over to it, catch my breath, and take another swing.

I sense that this is the way to avoid the other kind of inertia: inertia of rest, the one that leads to depression, despair—and flat-out giving up.

The literal result of each kick I take at the can is that I accomplish a small, finite task, one that can be crossed off a list. Somewhere else another isolated human may be producing the next great novel, planning a revolution, striving toward a cure for Covid-19. I am content with an organized kitchen shelf.   

I understand that I am privileged. Those who are at an earlier stage in their lives—raising kids, paying rent, building careers—have to do more than stay in motion, ward off despair, organize a shelf. They must produce substantive results. While I kick the can down the street, they are Sisyphus pushing a boulder that is far too heavy up a hill that is far too steep. They have no choice but to strain to accomplish what they must in order to survive.

The good news for the young is there will be a vaccine; there will be a future in which Covid has joined scourges of the past like polio and small pox, threats that have been tamed.

At sixty-nine this could be the rest of my life. Or not. Either way, I will keep going, even if what I accomplish is small.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion.

So I kick that can wicked-hard, then watch.  Turning end over end, it catches the sunlight as it sails toward the blue of the sky.  

The Rickety Bridge

October 4, 2020 § 10 Comments

I have no expectations beyond this moment. Balanced on the pin-head of now, I make no assumptions about the future; take nothing down the road for granted. This makes the small things that go right feel like gifts—if I don’t expect, anticipate, or feel deserving-of, when something good occurs, gratitude washes over me.  

The downside is that I don’t dare to hope, or let myself look ahead, or plan. The future is a bridge too rickety to imagine walking across, but in truth, has there ever been a bridge there at all? The future is never a done-deal until it becomes the past. Maybe that is a truth that has just become more apparent.

Now that I accept this uncertainty, I clutch the moment; do the work of the moment. I call a friend. Wash a dish. Cross a small finite task off a small finite list, a list that would resemble a plan if it were not so immediate and modest—and I keep going…I keep going.

If, now and then, I give up, it is only for a moment. Then the next moment comes along. I discover I am still standing and I take the next step.

I cry more often. Laugh more often. Since the moment is all that is, it hits hard. Sad or happy? Each gets my full attention.

We used to be more connected to each other, more often in each other’s company. We had places to go and things to do. It was our collective dreams and efforts that turned the wheels of time. In relative isolation I lean hard on habits to give the world shape. I walk, stretch, sing scales, and I hold a pen and write my daily pages.

If nothing else, I am a witness, one of many court stenographers recording the unfolding and overwhelming case being argued by the pandemic.

One moment becomes the next, and still I am here. And you are here. And as is always the case, although we are rarely aware of it, this is our moment.

Note: My Slow Dance posts are often typed out of the pages of a journal in which I write a daily essay. Building a bridge of my own, a bridge of words, is a way to hold the days and weeks together, a way to make sense of them. This daily practice might help you too. Give it a try.

Where Am I?

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