04 April 2011

On Being in the World: or how I account my days.

At the end of the day what can I say about it? I want some accounting before I give up the day to sleep and to dreams. During the day I may be immersed in its moments, but at day’s end I want to reflect on the substance of those moments. I would answer for my days and be satisfied with the uses to which I have engaged my time, even as I make report of my appetite at the end of a meal. At the latter, I rise from the table fulleven sometimes a bit stuffedand somewhat satisfied. We stand up from our chairs, push them slightly backwards, stretch myself upwards as if to kiss the sky, pat my stomach contentedly, and smile. My company does alike. It has been alright.
So I think should it be with the day. At the end of it I should arise from the table, as it were, lay down to my bed content, satisfied, full up and alive from events of the day. It has been alright.
We do not live so short sighted as to require that every activity finish with the day’s end, though the day certainly brings every activity to its close. Many of our endeavors flow into the next day as naturally as the river flows from place to place: smoothly, for the most part, and unceasingly. And so, at day’s end we ought to be content to sit and watch the river flow and to reflect on its movements. I prefer any running river to a stagnant pool.
And then, I think, the events of the day flow effortlessly into our dreams, and carry us toward the morning’s waking and the next day’s doing.
I think it is good to sleep in anticipation of the dawn. I have long been enamored by Gordon Lightfoot’s song. He writes,
The minstrel of the dawn is he
Not too wise but oh so free
He'll talk of life out on the street
He'll play it sad and say it sweet
Look into his shining face
Of loneliness you'll always find a trace
Just like me and you
He's tryin' to get into things
More happy than blue
I would be my own minstrel and have a song to sing. Thoreau says, “That day dawns only to which we are awake,” and I would always be an awake greeter of the dawn, hopefully accompanied by my mug of freshly brewed coffee. Standing in the cold of winter with my hands wrapped about the mug for warmth, I look through the window and anticipate the day. And at the end of that day, with perhaps a metaphoric glass of cognac at my side, I would consider the day. If I have not changed the world, then I might wonder how it is that the world has changed me. And I could reflect how might tomorrow be improved by this alteration.  Montaigne says, “It is not enough for our education not to spoil us; it must change us for the better.” Our days remain pedagogical. I must sleep from fatigue and arise renewed. My days must be filled with such repasts that I leave the table full and prepared to digest what I have consumed.
Montaigne writes that “the advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use . . . [the advantage of living] lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you have lived enough.”  When I reflect on my living, it is the uses to which I have engaged it that measures my life and about which I might offer accounting at the end of the day. Sometimes, I must be content with a small repast, at other times enjoy a moveable feast; but always I would reflect on how I dined of the table.


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