Underneath the Flotsam of the World: Summer Chronicles 2020 #5

by on July 20, 2020 · 0 comments

in Under the Perfect Sun

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white

–“The Red Wheelbarrow,” William Carlos Williams

By Jim Miller

So much depends on the first step out of bed, the first sip of coffee, holding the morning silence for as long as you can.  The chair where you sit, the angle of the morning light, letting the moment unfold on its own.  Don’t look at the phone, don’t turn on the radio or TV, never start staring at screens.  Morning is only morning when you own the time, when you wake up on your own terms and don’t give your day away before you’ve even started to live it.

So much depends on the order of the room. The feel of the space matters. Just as there is a psychogeography of urban environments, there is a psychogeography of interior spaces. Where you read, eat, make love, write, sit, think, wonder, and lounge should fit the full landscape of your moods and imagination.

The antique rocking chair by the window with the view of the bottlebrush tree, the thick Persian rug in the guest room by the bookcase stuffed with old novels, the folk art on the mantle next to the pictures of your family in various stages of their lives that unintentionally offers an episodic history of passing moments of time, the 1930s etching of Key West, the beautiful dead Art Nouveau clock stuck at 12:00 forever.

So much depends on sweeping the kitchen, dusting the window frames, taking out trash, doing the dishes, sorting the laundry, straightening the table, and every other household task. Trimming the bush in the front yard is essential too as is making sure the flowers don’t die and brushing off the picnic table by the side of the house. Do your own work— slowly, carefully, digging down into nothing other than the thing itself.  This is where the real work happens, where you remember the details and see into the texture of daily life.

There is nothing more beautiful than the dandelions in full bloom.

So much depends on the huge, ancient pine in the yard of the lovely Craftsman mansion across the street where the crows sit on the top branches surveying their domain in the gentle twilight.  And the view down the alley when the dying light gives way to a glimpse of the downtown skyline lighting up for the evening.  That and the parade of passersby swinging grocery bags, sipping coffee, enjoying a spoonful of ice cream.  Sitting on the front porch you learn how to listen and look.  There is new love, child’s play, drudgery, despair, and the depths of madness just outside my gate.  Sometimes, the enormity of the human drama on the street is almost too much to take in without bursting at the seams.

How many lives do we intersect with in the course of an ordinary day? How many souls pass by and through us if we really take the time to notice?

So much depends on learning to do nothing, to be no one.  It is only then that you discover that you are home.  Everything that we love and need is already right here, underneath the flotsam of the world.

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