Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The present, we assume, is eternally before us, one of the few things in life from which we cannot be parted. It overwhelms us in the painful first moments of entry into the world, when it is still too new to be managed or negotiated, remains by our side during childhood and adolescence, in those years before the weight of memory and expectation, and so it is sad and a little unsettling to see that we become, as we grow older, much less capable of touching, grazing, or even glimpsing it, that the closest we seem to get to the present are those brief moments we stop to consider the spaces our bodies are occupying, the intimate warmth of the sheets in which we wake, the scratched surface of the window on a train taking us somewhere else, as if the only way we can hold time still is by trying physically to prevent the objects around us from moving. The present, we realize, eludes us more and more as the years go by, showing itself for fleeting moments before losing us in the world’s incessant movement, fleeing the second we look away and leaving scarcely a trace of its passing, or this at least is how it usually seems in retrospect, when in the next brief moment of consciousness, the next occasion we are able to hold things still, we realize how much time has passed since we were last aware of ourselves, when we realize how many days, weeks, and months have slipped by without our consent. Events take place, moods ebb and flow, people and situations come and go, but looking back during these rare junctures in which we are, for whatever reason, lifted up from the circular daydream of everyday life, we are slightly surprised to find ourselves in the places we are, as though we were absent while everything was happening, as though we were somewhere else during the time that is usually referred to as our life. Waking up each morning we follow by circuitous routes the thread of habit, out of our homes, into the world, and back to our beds at night, move unseeingly through familiar paths, one day giving way to another and one week to the next, so that when in the midst of this daydream something happens and the thread is finally cut, when, in a moment of strong desire or unexpected loss, the rhythms of life are interrupted, we look around and are quietly surprised to see that the world is vaster than we thought, as if we’d been tricked or cheated out of all that time, time that in retrospect appears to have contained nothing of substance, no change and no duration, time that has come and gone but left us somehow untouched.

—  Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North: A Novel (Hogarth (July 13, 2021)

Walking. With Small Details.

Wednesday morning. 5:56 a.m. Temp, mid-70’s. Muggy.

484 consecutive days. Like in a Row. Morning walk at Daybreak @ Cove Island Park.

Now, do you see that ripple in the water, actually a number of ripples, in the bottom quarter of the photo? They’re the equivalent of Rainbow Smelt in Lake Superior. (I think.) 15 years living here, I’ve never noticed these schools of fish. And now, they’re seemingly everywhere. Water rippling, spinning, bubbling. My eyes darting left and right in search of other schools.

I can’t explain it.

They’ve become important.

Anuk Arudpragasam, from A Passage North: “Suddenly the small details that are glossed over in your usual accounting of life took on an almost cosmic significance, as though your fate could be determined by whether or not you remembered to draw water before it became dark, by whether you hurried to catch the bus or decided to take your time, by whether or not you said yes or no to any of the countless trivial decisions that come only in retrospect, once the event has occurred and nothing can be changed, to take on greater significance.”

Thursday Morning.  I’m between calls. Susan shouts out asking for me to come down stairs. Hurry!

I come barreling down the stairs.

(Sciatica and all, this body can still move when it needs to.)

She’s sobbing. Good God. What happened? [Read more…]

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