It's been a long winter, already. The recent record snows, with their resulting snow days at area schools, have made for some strange weeks where time has seemed almost to stand still and the months are broken into uneven clumps, making it difficult to settle into a regular schedule. Deeply overcast skies have a way of magically turning entire days into protracted mornings, wherein the day just never quite manages to get going.
In addition, I have been more or less buried in work, for which I am grateful, but which monopolizes my time and yet rudely refuses to make me rich. I have spent a great deal of time - increasing amounts of time - with my head stuck in a computer, but have had less and less internet time available for such leisurely and enriching activities as reading or writing (blogging). I have been painting very little.
So, it was in a state of some mental fatigue and ennui that I stepped out onto our porch the other day (sixty degrees!) and somewhat guiltily sat down and lit my pipe. It was only a few minutes later that I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner, for failing to take my own advice. I had grown numb because I had forgotten to take time away from my work obligations for these humanizing pursuits... that is, sitting and smoking and thinking. Not thinking about things - problems - as if to solve them, but contemplating things.
I contemplated the squirrels. I contemplated the rolling clouds, each the color of gun metal, but with a halo "like burnished bronze", and the pale turquoise sky behind it all. The setting sun was like a candle flame. One could look directly into it as it quivered at the horizon. There was the warm sound of wind in the bare brown trees. A wedge of geese honked overhead and a local hawk arced by me not ten feet away. I could hear his wings part the air, and could even discern a difference in the sounds made by the wing feathers of different types; some whooshing and some making a distinct whistle. He thinks he owns the place. The pipe was warm in my hand.
The effect of the whole scene was like being wrapped in a blanket... while having your scalp massaged.
While the spiritual value of work should not be forgotten, we are not machines. We need time to ease our brains and contemplate what God is doing in nature. I believe we NEED this dialogue with nature just as we need food and air. As many of us in the modern West don't get this proximity to nature in our work, we must take time away from our work to get it.
This is true for me, anyhow. Perhaps I'm a little odd, but I think not that odd. Do yourself a favor; pull your head out of your computer and take a walk. Is it cold? Wear a jacket. Rainy? They have special coats and boots made for that sort of weather, too, I hear. At least get out on the porch and leave your smart phone in the house (no cheating!).