These Hours

What will our final perspective be on all these hours? The hours of work, the hours of wealth, the idle hours, the hours of failure and self doubt? Who stands up and divests themselves of this body of work? Who lets go of all these accomplishments, these so-called failures? Do we look back on the wealth acquired from the acquisition, the poems published and admired, the house built and sold, the land farmed and productive, or do we see the drama of the acquisition, the beauty in the act of writing itself, the happiness the house can contain, the love of the land and the sky that nourished it?…

It is the hidden in our work that always holds the treasure. A life dedicated to the goodness in work is a life making visible all the rich invisible seams hidden from the others. Good work is a grateful surprise. 

David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea, Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

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I love winter sunsets. The interplay of the fading light with the clouds, creates such beautiful forms across the sky. I love the way the colours intensify just before they settle into more subtle hues and finally melt into darkness. Last night the mountain was covered with a blanket of white, tipped with pink; it was so beautiful and I couldn’t stop looking, caught in some space between the ground I stood on and a world beyond the edges of knowing. A thin place.

I like dusk and sunset; they fill me with a sense of quiet and acceptance. Perhaps it has to do with knowing that the day, with all its responsibilities and expectations, is at an end. It is a time for settling into stillness and rest.

This has been a year of placing fresh demands on myself. I have committed to growing my skill and capacity, not only in writing itself, but in trying new things. It feels good, to come to the end of the day and know that I have taken just a few more steps towards my goals. But there is a line to be walked, between the discipline of getting work done, and that of entering deeply into the work itself. Some weeks I am so conscious of the expectations I have that I cannot come to rest, and the joy in the work is lost. I press into the tasks I have set for the day without being able to immerse myself in them, or delight in the process. And at the end of the day there is only a sense of all that was left undone, how far I have yet to go. Sometimes I feel as though I have been skimming the surface, not present to my words or myself.

Yesterday evening, as I walked in the last light of the day, I breathed in the quiet of the world around me. The trees and the mountains know time in ways we do not. Their days are not measured by the minutes and hours we use to determine our worth, the worth of our accomplishments. Much of their work is hidden below, in the roots, beneath our conscious perception. As David Whyte says, that is true for us too. When I skim through my days, trying hard to get it done, without dropping deep, into real awareness, I lose the ability to make ‘visible the rich invisible seams’. But when I do, I experience the ‘grateful surprise’.

 

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