Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Word About Vigilance by Patresa Hartman

Saturday was beautiful and marked by freedom -- a welcome shift from weeks of commotion and planning and responsibility and schedule keeping. And still, something fell at the end of the day. I don't know where it comes from, this spontaneous cloud, but it appears out of blind corners from time to time and settles around.

When it settles, motion is restricted, fond memory erased. All connection seems lost, and I spin.

It did not last long, and I am grateful. Blew through, blew out, as I slept. But I can still taste it this morning. It hides, but not well: The tail end of it pokes out between the bookshelf and the floor lamp. It is waiting for me to drop vigilance.

A word about this vigilance:

I once engaged a student in a debate about pessimism. He argued that anyone who is a realist is by default a pessimist, because there is nothing consistent in the world but war and death. He was an intelligent man, and an angry student who kept his facial expressions hidden behind a thick, woolly beard.

And it occurred to me then, how easy it is to by a cynic. So much easier. If war is a wheel, it is the squeakiest. If poverty is a color, it is the loudest. If all the ugly in the world is an elephant, it is the most space-taking in the global livingroom. It is not necessarily a matter of intelligence to notice; it is a matter of picking out that which is glaringly obvious.

Optimists often get jabbed. To be hopeful is to be oblivious, too mindless to understand. But I disagree. In a world on fire, it takes work to keep one eye on beauty and promise. It takes vigilance. And so this morning, I will take inventory before the cloud can settle and direct my thoughts.

  • I am hungry, and there is fruit in the fridge.
  • My dog sighs, and her nose is wet and shiny.
  • The curtains are parted, and the fog is hovering just enough for texture.
  • The grass is dewy and a richer green.
  • The street is quiet, the cars still asleep.
  • The turqoise cushion, with its missing button, appears to wink.
  • The coffee is fresh and perfectly tanned by cream.
  • The paper is thick and neatly stacked.
  • It is early Sunday and everything waits.


Kathryn Magendie said...

OH, I needed to see this on this fine mountain morning! I can be the worse cynic - a negative nelly - a whiny poobahdoo! But, when I lift up my head out of my arse, I see the important things, and they are not Me, they are All.

Barbara Quinn said...

I'm so glad you posted this. Tragedy has a way of rocking even the staunchest of optimist's worlds. Accepting and moving on, noticing and understanding, allowing ourselves to heal are all part of the tattered fabric of life. Thanks, P!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Wow! This is fabulous food for thought and worth reading at the start of each day, P.

To the poor student pessimist who said, "... anyone who is a realist is by default a pessimist, because there is nothing consistent in the world but war and death," I'm sorry no one ever showed him LOVE, BEAUTY, ART/MUSIC, or GOODNESS. These persist just as consistently as the uglies on which he focused. ;)

Ami said...

Optimists do get a bad rap, don't they. I refuse to let this stop me from being hopeful. I will continue to be vigilant at trying to see the possibility in as many moments and situations as I can.

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