Tuesday, February 05, 2019

In Between

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." ~John Lennon

Ten years ago, I was spending at least two hours a day as a commuter, that's ten hours a week, forty hours a month, and nearly 500 hours a year. Part of my motivation to move from our southend neighborhood into downtown was to "reclaim" those hours. It seemed like such a colossal waste. I wanted to spend my life being here or there rather than between here or there.

Of course, that's not how life works. Even though my daily commute is now more like 15 minutes, I still spend nearly all of my time "in between." Mister Rogers famously said that love is an active noun, like "struggle." I would say the same goes for life: the concept of "here and there" is always theoretical, while the commute, the struggle, or (to be cliche about it) the journey is all there is and the degree to which we anticipate our destination or cling to the places we've left behind is the degree to which we aren't fully alive.

We've had a couple of snow days to start this week. My wife is out of down with the dog. My daughter is in school in New York. I've been trying to treat these days for what they are, gifts of time. I've lit fires. I've taken a few walks. I've read a good book. I've cooked my favorite meals. To be honest, I've been a little bored, and there have been moments when I've had to reason away a nagging sense that I'm wasting time. That said, in a couple days, I'll look back on these lazy, cozy days and wish to be back there in my bathrobe having yet another unhurried cup of coffee.

Instead of treating these snow days like something to hurry through, I've tried to live them for what they are: life itself. It takes conscious effort, discipline even, to remain here or there. Indeed, I'm finding it impossible because it is in the nature of life to be continually emerging. In fact, there is no here or there. There is only this "in between" which is where life happens.

Young children already know this. Even if they can't put it into words, you can tell by how they embrace this moment. Adults can waste time, but young children cannot. That is perhaps the most remarkable thing about spending day after day with them. Not a single second is wasted. There is struggle, there is love, there is doing and being, while here and there are relegated to the realm of theory where they belong.

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