by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
April 12, 2008
TIME TO TAKE A MOMENT
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- Take a "timeout" with me and let's talk about time.
Let's put a pot of fresh hot coffee, some rich real cream, a bowl of sugar and a plate piled high with chocolate doughnuts in the middle of the table. And let's talk about time.
In Andrew Marvel's powerful poem "To His Coy Mistress," the speaker is trying to seduce a young lady by using the swift passing of time as his argument: Had we but world enough and time/ this coyness, Lady, were no crime./ We would sit down and think which way/ to walk, and pass our long love's day.
Marvel strengthens his diatribe by reminding his lady that if he is not allowed to seduce her today there is a strong possibility that tomorrow " ...worms shall try that long preserved virginity." And "The grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace."
The poem's strongest lines reflect the would-be lover's growing anxiety: But at my back I always hear/ Time's winged chariot hurrying near.
Am I advocating casual afternoon delight coffee breaks?
No. I am trying not to drown in what is happening in Washington, D.C, in Pakistan, in Iran, and down the street from my home. I am trying to remember that the Now is all we really have and that the Now, well tended, makes of yesterday a mockery and of tomorrow a fool's illusion.
Time. In all of nature only Homo sapiens fears it, tries to control it, marks time, kills time, takes timeouts and spends a lifetime trying to "hold back the rushing moments" - and the wrinkles and the rusting of ridiculous possessions.
We plan to have fun tomorrow, get involved in political affairs tomorrow, exercise tomorrow ... and worry about terrorism ... tomorrow. We remember yesterday as "the good old days" and we often feel unplugged from the eternal now.
Now is the only time known to the mountain Sweet William, the rose bush blooming by the back gate, the flight of the wild geese. There is no alarm clock or flight plan for the geese ... simply an innate knowing and an instinctive sense of being totally present in the Now.
According to the late Alan Watts, American philosopher and authority on Zen, Western man (and woman - emphasis, mine) has forgotten how to feel ourselves part of the present, forgotten the feel of the grass beneath our feet, the smell of bacon frying, the sense of doing what we are doing while we are doing it. The sheer enjoyment of this cup of coffee, this conversation with this friend - how long has it been since I listened, really listened, to what my friend is saying?
Once, several years ago, when it seemed that all of Chicken Little's sky had fallen on my head and I was at a pity-party for one, I attempted to get some relief from my self-imposed misery by meditating.
Meditation is a simple means of relaxing the body and quieting the mind. It increases objectivity, restores a sense of being centered, and promotes an overall sense of well-being.
On this particular occasion I did not receive an envelope full of money falling from the sky with a reminder to pay the light bill, but I did experience a few brief moments of being "timeless" ... as though I paused and became synchronized with some subtle field of energy ... some giant heartbeat. I fell in line. I got in step.
The experience helped calm my American frenzy to squeeze life by the throat and "get all you can get while the getting is good." You know: "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead" into materialistic insanity. Have a good time if it kills you.
I linger, now, over every cup of coffee, watch my friend's eyes and words more closely, stop to hear one cardinal warn her mate "That silly poet is outside again in the swing. You'd think she'd learn this is our tree and our garden."
And when this love affair with seeing and hearing and tasting and feeling and being deliciously alive - when it all moves with the sun down behind the trees, a loved one will probably turn to me and say "There is a funny-looking wagon with wings in the front yard and some odd-looking, luminous people are coming to your front door."
And I will reply "Yes, I know. They have come for me. I am not going willingly into that unknown night, but neither will I rage, for I have known the taste of a million Nows, and I have felt the splendor of the day."
American Reporter Correspondent Elizabeth T. Andrews lives in Cartersville, Ga. http://www.treefamilyfoundation.com>Her Website features other columns and her poetry. Write her at email@example.com or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.