Friday, March 30, 2012

A Day Like Before

If it should happen now and then that you go to bed thinking upon the day that has just passed, and how quickly it has just passed, you may resent it.  You may wonder about your life.  You may wonder how it is that you did not do things you thought you might.  You're thirty today when only yesterday you were twenty.  And tomorrow you'll be forty.  Day after day spent like the one that is ending now, ending so quickly that you barely had time to breathe, much less live or do anything memorable.  Today, like all those other days, will simply disappear into the past.  It is unimportant and thus, sad in the way it makes you older.

If you have had this feeling, it has no doubt arisen from the busy manner in which you live your life.  You wake; you rush through breakfast and preparations; you make your way out the door to earn your living, you spend your living at stores, shuffling through aisles and past clerk; you wheel your car from driveway to streets to parking lots to roads to driveway; you eat, you gather in the events of other people's day, you relate the events of your day, and then it is night and you resist until the last moment the demand of your body and the next day's responsibilities to go to bed.  There's no time for reflection.  There is no time for making today any more relevant that yesterday was.

More often than not, if a day is important, you've had little to do with it.  Soemone else is getting married, or divorced, or having a child - or you are having a child, but the actual day is beyond your control - just as the origin and success of the pregnancy was largely beyond your control.  A family member or a friend dies; a catastrophe causes a fire or an accident holds up your journey; or something of your health lays you low; or the weather changes for the worse.

You have so little power over the little events of your life.  Is it any wonder that when your day has been memorable, you have not made it so?

If the chance exists that you can reflect on matters like this, consider that the medieval dweller had even less control, or even comprehension, of events that caused a day to be memorable.  Strip away all the news media bringing news, or the entertainment industry bringing entertainment; strip away all the books full of explanations for things; strip away all the comprehension you have about the weather, or how biology works, or every bit of education you've ever received.  Strip away your experience with, or even the power to visualize, a world greater than seven miles from where you were born; strip from your imagination every animal you've never seen in fact; strip out buildings you've never seen, or people you've never seen, or every kind of clothing in the world beyond that worn by your parents.  Rid yourself of the knowledge of foods you've never tasted, or materials you've never touched, or stories that were never written and never read to you.  Sink yourself into the world of the medieval mind, where there is only one music, one culture, one idea of the world - and where everything you know that does not come from your own limited experience is the spoken word of someone who is prepared to lie to you about what is true.

Jacob Bronowski, in his series of the Ascent of Man, puts it thus in the second episode of that series:

"There is no room for innovation, because there is not time between evening and morning to develop a new device or new thought.  Not even a new tune.  The only habits that survive are the old habits.  The only ambition of the son is to be like the father.  It's a life without features.  Every night is the end of a day like the last, and every morning will be the beginning of a journey like the day before."

Your day ends and you feel it has amounted to very little, if anything at all?  Try for a moment to imagine every day by necessity ending that way - and imagine lacking even the comprehension to wonder why that should be so.

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