Thursday, November 21, 2002


I can only speak for myself, of course, but I find I don't make enough time for simple contemplation in my life. I’m not actually the sort of person to turn on music to drown out the voices in my head, or to have the TV on simply for the sake of not having to think. (Though I do watch a lot of TV, I am as apt to leave it off as not when I am home alone.) But I am fairly likely, when things get quiet, to pick up a book, rather than close my eyes and think.

This may be at least in part why I so dearly love to stand in the shower long after I have finished my ablutions, and why I so resent anyone coming in to the bathroom during this time. It is practically the only 10 or 15 minutes during the day when the background noise serves only to help me concentrate, when no book, phone, computer or television takes up just enough of my attention to keep me from noticing anything about myself or my world.

Sometimes, during that quiet time, I find myself really, truly on the edge of understanding something of tremendous importance. Indeed, I think there have been times not only at “the edge of understanding” but that actual, genuine understanding has penetrated my smirking self-satisfaction. At every one of those times, though, turning off the water and reentering society sends the understanding skittering away like the vestiges of a dream—the kind where you know you have discovered the secret of flight, if only you could remember it when the dawn comes.

I hope with the change in my life in a month or two, that I will be able to begin practicing the self-discipline I have long vowed, where there will always be within reach a notebook wherein to write a handful of words, to retain the important things that enter my consciousness triumphantly but slink away as a thief in the night. Too, perhaps I can impose upon myself the discipline of making time beyond my morning toilet to open myself to the mysteries that always stand in my peripheral vision, awaiting only a quiet moment when nothing else competes for my notice.


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