“We have surface time, which is the time we move through every day, but we need to reach the rhythms of deep time. Like the ocean is all waves and movement on the surface, we need to sink through time to the depths where the true rhythm lies.” ~John O’Donohue
I stopped using online calendars years ago, preferring the inconvenience of art-rich wall calendars. On January first I perform an annual calendar ritual. I go through the previous year’s written-on pages, using a colored pen to transcribe birthdays and anniversaries on the new year’s clean, optimistic squares. Then I add regular gatherings — second Saturday for book group, third Monday for women’s spiritual group, every Wednesday for focused meditation, and so on. As I do, I can’t help but reflect on the past year. All those days filled with classes, meetings, deadlines. All the celebrations, house concerts, potlucks, and family gatherings. All the trembly courage it took to give a talk or lead a meeting, now comfortably in the past. I always write an overly optimistic list of the ways I’ll challenge myself in the next year. I rarely do more than a few.
The calendar I picked for 2020 offers beautiful tree-themed art for each month. And like everyone else’s calendar, it lies. I no longer even cross off what’s cancelled. Why bother, when there’s nothing to add in its place? Looking at it I imagine another me, in a parallel universe, doing those scheduled things. My other self doesn’t appreciate them nearly enough. She complains about being rushed, about traffic, about long lines. She vows to slow down and appreciate the moment. When she does she notices new things while stuck in traffic, enjoys the faces of people standing in line, savors more fully the pleasure of a porch chair after a long day. But she’s not always so mindful.
None of us could have imagined the year we’re in. Time takes on a different dimension when so many people have died and so many are suffering. We can’t help but sink more deeply into these hours of ours.
My calendar hangs by my desk, beautiful and useless. Time’s measure no longer fits on its pages.