“The Way It Is”

First Sunday of the new year. I have done my outdoor chores, clearing the sidewalk and patio of the light snowfall from last night. It was cold, but dressed warmly and moving around other than a little chill to the cheeks I was comfortable.  It was quiet outside, as it almost always is on Sunday morning.  The inhabitants of this street are rarely outside, rarely loud or disruptive, very urban aloof and neighborly nonchalant.  Scraping the sidewalk and hearing that grating plastic against concrete I was aware of the time (after 9 a.m.) and how far sound travels in the cold quiet of Sunday morning.  That’s just the way it is.

Now I am working on year end/ year beginning tasks, those back up and move forward tasks that while necessary take up so much time.  Perfect opportunities for multi tasking or multi computer use.  So I type this on the web machine while the main computer copies and compiles all the necessary information to back up if I ever need to do that.  Ever practical and prepared.  Occasionally that is the way it is.

The thing is, the back up concept isn’t really one that ever gets much attention, certainly not in this world of forward always face the future onward and upward. Seriously, how often does the past get recalled, much less relived?  The cynics with the world view of time probably say too often, all the time, when does it ever not?  But on the personal level, except for that year end letter to enclose in those holiday cards or that silly bland totally useless facebook year in review thing does anyone really look back, examine, evaluate, or consider where they have come from, what they have done, what experiences are most memorable, what affect their past actions have on their potential and thus far unrevealed future? Who can say what the future will be? Maybe that is the way it is.

I spent part of yesterday moving my basic information from the 2014 calendar to the 2015 calendar.  Yes, I still maintain a physical paper based calendar, where I keep notes, projects, deadlines, appointments and plans.  Each week gets a two page spread.  Reality rules on the left page (ironically subversive in that mind divisive theory) and the probable and potential exists on the right page. It works, keeping me on track while floundering in the possibilities.  Or feet on the ground and head in the clouds.  In my world that is the way it is.

In working on these end and beginning tasks I keep coming back to the whole time construct.  And it is a construct.  Perhaps a necessary construct, but as artificially determined as distance or space.  Past, present, future. Then, now, someday. Before, now, after.  This is about all I can comprehend of the time continuum.

My calendar uses generally accepted units of time, days, weeks, months, and years.  Of these basic units the only two that provide any meaningful use to me are the week, about the largest unit of time I can comprehend and the day, which I generally define as the now.   Beyond a day, and certainly beyond a week there exists only fantasy; hopes and promises.  That is the way it is.

The old calendars, those  records of days and weeks, projects conceived and projects completed, are still around but rarely viewed.  Just like as I turn the page in my calendar each Sunday evening to display the new week, once those old calendars are filled they no longer have a lot of purpose.  Done, completed, whatever the outcome it is over.  Regrets? Triumphs?  Success? Failure?  Doesn’t really matter, what is over is over, done.  Perhaps what happened last week or last year was built upon and remains the basis of what is done today but it no longer exists.  That is just the way it is.

Time is a tricky thing and it is easy to get hung up in the immense spans in can be said to encompass.  But really the only significance time has is now.  This moment, this minute.  Really every day is the start of a new year. Think about that. Each time I wake up there is the potential to completely change my present, and my presence in the world.  Every single moment I can and do make a choice on how to spend that moment.  I can decide who I want to be with, where I want to be, what I want to do and most importantly how I want to spend this unit, whatever unit I chose, of time.  Pretty heady stuff.  A whole different way to look at control and choice and time and life.  And that is the way it is.

And now, because I can never let an opportunity to share this poem go by, my favorite poem:

The Way It Is by William Stafford.

There is a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change.
But it does not change.
People wonder about what things you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen, people get hurt or die and you suffer and grow old.
Nothing you do can stop times unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

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