Time

Time has been on my mind lately.

Maybe it’s the nature of the new year. How the world stops and examines the year gone by and projects to the one going forward. It’s a time of year I struggle with.

I don’t make resolutions, for example. I believe change is emblematic of habit and habit is a function of practice and routine. Never in my life have I been able to make a change because the calendar reads January 1st. As evidenced by my bout with alcoholism and drug addiction, I can neglect to change until my life is on the line, and even then I find myself asking, “Was it really that bad?”

The New Year’s Eve meeting I went to served me well. The topic was time. In sharing, I mentioned the Sanskrit that, to me, is the definitive prayer of life one day at a time:

 

Yesterday is but a dream,

Tomorrow is only a vision.

But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

-accredited to Kālidāsa  according to GoodReads.

 

Recovery has taught me that even on New Year’s Eve, the only thing I can do to improve my new year is to do everything I can to live better in my last day of the old one.

 

In my blogging hiatus, I have redefined what time means to me.

There is something maniacal about social media, technology, and the modern world. Time warps. It becomes something we are either impossibly trying to capture in the photos we post, or something we rush over as we send our impressions and comments across the globe in the blink of an eye.

Our shared sense of time has become so faulty that we may need to change the accepted notion that time flies when you’re having fun. I’m not sure about it anymore. In the age of entertainment, time flies when you’re distracted. 

Since I shared last with you, dear readers, I have been exploring the depth and weight of time spent apart from screens, enmeshing myself more fully in the mundane I am so fond of writing about.

I put the rush aside and I have rediscovered the joys of long lazy hours in the company of loved ones.

That rush though. The rush is the rub. For me, the rush is the thing that makes me wail for more hours in the day, more time lost in clicks and comments. Life is more than a series of tasks to accomplish. How easily I can forget that.

I can, quite easily, believe that the sense of accomplishment from a duty fulfilled or an errand ran is why I get up in the morning.

It’s not.

I get up in the morning to get lost in the in-betweens that make life worth living: the laughter shared with a loved one or the embrace of a child. The moments that creep into the cracks of diligence and responsibility. Sometimes, it takes a hammer to smash it all up before you return to the simple truth that there are cracks in everything, as the poet once said.

In my time apart, I discovered that my 2017 was well lived.

 

The first Thursday of the new year, I woke up to snow.

The fourth day of the year was the first day I answered the early wake up call to write. The glaze of the holidays over, I was thrilled to return to the routine that sets me free. One thousand words before dawn. My 20-mile march. Every morning.

I was deep into the writing of this post before I thought to check if school was cancelled. Six hundred words into my thousand and I hadn’t even considered that I might not have to work today.

It helps that I am writing in my newly finished study. I was so busy wrapping up a novel and rehearsing to debut beside my son on stage that I forget to write about the joy I experienced in finishing off our side porch. It is my man cave. The book shelf from an Ash tree my neighbor took down, the ceiling pine, the cold porcelain tile in the morning makes me glad to be alive.

 

Getting some help from my “worker man.” I give him free rent and he pretends to be helpful.

 

Sanding the Ash.

 

The result.

 

Six months of steady work in 2017 to pave the way for a creative and fruitful new year.

I am reaping the benefits of a yesterday well lived, not wishing or hoping for a better tomorrow.

No longer do I have to rummage through the basement bins of books to find the words I have lived by. By morning, I am with Yeats, catching what comes dropping from the veils of the morning. And I am with Berry by night, enjoying the deep leisure of the filling moon. In here, my arms are like Thomas’s, wrapped round the griefs of the ages.

I haven’t found a home for my novel yet. But that’s no matter. I have Fitzgerald an arms length away to remind me that tomorrow I will run faster, reach out my arms further. While searching for a home for my first book, I’ve begun a few other projects. The most incessant one is a story. It is a story about time and about people. The people haunt me. Haunt me like Chuck Palahniuk, not like Wes Craven. They stir my wakeful hours and crash my restful ones. I can’t get them out of my head.

So I don’t try to.

I give them space to stretch their legs, the peace of mind to stay awhile. I’ve already shown them my happy place, the place where I can summon the words that give them shape. The ninety square feet of porcelain and pine that my imagination calls home.

When my phone informed me that school was cancelled, I felt something good. Not a rush or a high, but an opening. Time did not fly. It felt like a weightless expanse. Like what’s been going on forever is what will remain.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.

 


 

Please excuse the interruption for a brief announcement. In pursuit of time lengthening magic, the Miracle of the Mundane is following a new publishing schedule: the second and fourth Mondays of the month. Inviting others to write in this space has always been my vision. I’m still discovering all that the blog means. In large part, this is determined by hearing what the blog means to you. Thank you for reading, engaging, sharing—for journeying with me.

24 Responses to “Time

  • “…reaping the benefits of a yesterday well lived…” Another quote for my journal! Welcome back and may the new year bring you more of the same.

    • Thanks Liz. I’m glad you found a nugget to help you in your own writing. Thank you too for your kind wishes. Also wishing you a happy and productive new year.

      Mark

  • Sheesh, you should spend “time” away more often, that was lovely, thoughtful and relevant.
    I thank you.

    • Haha. Thanks Jeff. Well, I think that’s the plan. Spend more time living so I have more to blog about. Good to hear from you man.

  • Roger L
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you, thank you.

  • Thanks Mark. A lovely post, wishing you and your family a really wonderful new year 🙂

  • One of the best posts all year. I was mulling over my (mis)use of time this morning, and how I let it get away from me instead of getting my work done. No more! I’m going to let it unfold, and “get lost in the in-betweens.”
    Thanks, Mark!
    (Also, I now want a man cave.)

    • Time’s a tricky thing ain’t it? We’re a work on progress. It’s hard to do. But hey, we didn’t get sober to sit around and watch the rainfall right?

  • Happy New Year Mark. I love the new space. And I needed words to remind me not to aim for the rush.

  • Man, we gotta catch up. Talk about a coincidence — I removed the dreaded Faceplace app from my phone about a week ago and followed suit with twitter and instagram last night. The Faceplace removal was all about getting some serenity back — the others were due to perceived battery issues (which may not have been more than a perception.) At any rate, good to have you back. Looking forward to seeing the study.

    That “Worker Man” is one of the best. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. Cherish it while it lasts.

    • Thanks Damien! We’re texting now so I hope we get together in early February as planned. I’ll give you a call sometime this week to catch up more. Finished Irresistible. Really helpful for me in creating boundaries with social media. Thanks again for that recommendation. Look forward to catching up!

  • Great post Mark! Keep using your time this wisely 😊

  • Looks like a good girl cave too!

  • Your study looks awesome! 2017 was a good year for me, too. My ability to largely exclude from my life external forces outside of my control was a huge contributing factor. I told D on Saturday that I had logged into FB for the first time in probably a month. Baby steps. See you soon, I hope. Take care!

    • Looks like we’re seeing each other in February! At least, I hope so. FB is a huge hurdle. That’s more than baby steps, in my opinion. I’m trying to focus on the things that really matter more and more. Mainly, the people, not the screens. I hope our 2018 has a bunch of get togethers.

  • Great post, Mark! Glad we spoke yesterday – or else I would have written a post-sized response here. Fact it, I get this, and I too am inviting space into things, and oddly enough, at the same time, I am doing some heavy planning in how I spend my days. I am practicing restraint (social media), discipline (writing, training) and a bit of acceptance (shit will go sideways when I least expect it).

    I love that space you created. My goal one day is to have a meditation / writing space.

    Love your work.

    • We did get to catch up and that was a great talk! I hope we get some more time to speak soon, too. Those projects you have cooking sound awesome. A recipe for creativity.

  • Beautiful piece Mark. Happy new year to you and yours. Andy x

  • Rosalia
    2 weeks ago

    Wonderful as always dear Mart. Wishing you the best always!

  • Rosalia
    2 weeks ago

    auto correct does it again….MARK!

  • Kristen
    2 weeks ago

    That is a super cool shelf! Wow, you’re a many of many talents. I like what you say about time and relate to it flying by with that probably having to do with distraction. I’d love to slow it down, so please post more on this if you feel moved to down the road. Happy writing!

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