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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

time out

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Three days off, at home. It's warm enough to sit in l'atelier after a cold winter, though a chill remains. Bugs have come inside, and died. (I posted this photo at small.) I opened a window and could hear and watch birds finding live bugs in last year's garden. I cut lilacs and set them in front of the screen door where the breeze could sweep the room with their fragrance.


I sat nestled in my Indian crazy quilt, with another blanket on top of me, and watched prisms from the leaded window dance on the pine floor. I read Anne Michaels' new release, The Winter Vault. I had visions of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the displaced towns and villages in its progressive path. I slept and dreamt about Egyptian pharoahs, five kinds of date palms and floating down the Nile in a houseboat.


Or was I really floating?


The second day off I did my morning blog browsing and thought I'd open the New York Times online. When I was greeted with their new frenetic Twittery nytimes/timeswire box rapidly flashing numbers of times the site has been updated in the last hour with the question "HOW MANY HAVE YOU MISSED?"

I thought: What is happening to us? Are we so afraid of missing one crumb of information? What about understanding what is here, what has been here hundreds and thousands of years?

When my time out is over, and I'm back in time's sortings, I'm more determined than ever to balance days with mini time outs. Stop. Look. Listen. I think I learned that in kindergarten.

55 comments:

Jill of All Trades said...

That first picture is beautiful enough to paint. Very nice and I can almost smell the lilacs.

Akim said...

Don't worry, don't hurry and don't forget to smell the flowers on the way...as my dear dad would say.

ds said...

The scent of lilac cures many ills. 'Tis a pity the season is so short--all the more precious for that. A dear friend once quoted Colette (we thought it was Colette): "How simple it is to realize that we can only be happy now. And there will never be a time when it is not now." So enjoy now...

delphine said...

You and I have been thinking the same way Ruth, We are taking off for a break, I am finding it more and more difficult to keep up with everything juggling things I like to do with things that I have to do. I have posted about this today. Enjoy your breaks!

Kat said...

Amen!

Christine Gram said...

BEAUTIFUL beautiful beautiful!!! I love the photos and the thoughts set me sailing.

Oliag said...

Once again a beautiful photo...and once again your sentiments match mine...I love to take short, simple, restorative breaks...especially on a beautiful spring day.

My ancestors were from a displaced town in RI...many villages and farms were flooded for a reservoir...all the known gravesites from family plots including my ancestors' were moved to another location...It must have been very tragic at the time...

CottageGirl said...

Congratulations on using your time wisely. (Usually when I say this about myself, I've done a thousand chores, ran 500 errands, made 50 phone calls, balanced the bank statements, washed, cleaned, mowed, raked, etc, etc, etc....)

But you, my dear, have used your time in the wisest way possible .. you have lived in the moment! Congrats on that! I need to desperately practice that!

You are my hero!

Loring Wirbel said...

Wonderful to get to comment on your blog again after all those access-less days at sea. Your observation reminded me of the lead essay, "The Magic of Mystery," from guest editor JJ Abrams, creator of Lost, who edited the May 2009 "Mystery" issue of Wired magazine. His essay compared people who seek out "spoilers" for movies, TV shows, or video-game solutions, with those who have given up on random searches for CDs or vinyl in favor of downloading all their music from iTunes. In all cases, Abrams says, it's an impatience at solving a puzzle or accepting a level of mystery that compels many people to take shortcuts in order to gain as much information as early as possible. Some choice quotes:

"True understanding (or skill or effort) has become bothersome -- an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else). Earning the endgame seems so yesterday, especially when we can know whatever we need to know whenever we need to know it ... if you physically got your ass to a music store, you'd have a chance to discover something. But wait, you say. iTunes gives you the chance to browse! To that I nod, concede the point, and say "Bullshit." ... We didn't earn that right... the very term itself, spoiler, has become synonymous with "cool information you can get before the other guy." What no one remembers is that it literally means "to damage irreparably; to ruin." Spoilers make no bones about destroying the intended experience -- and somehow that has become, for many, the preferred choice .. who among us has the self-control to choose not to go for the easy answer?"

(More quotes at http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-05/mf_jjessay)


"I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

C.M. Jackson said...

Ruth--

Less is truly more---the smell of lilacs and the feeling of floating got to me--that space between waking and sleeping. Nothing is more delicious than a nap on a sweet spring day.

enjoy--c

Lover of Life said...

I have tuned out from all of that stuff. Time to get control of my thinking and feelings. Constant bombardment with all this "information" just clogs the senses. As for twitter? Ummm I don't think so. I have enough minutia in my life, thanks.

Love your pictures - what a wonderful spot to get lost in a book.

Leena said...

Ruth,
greetings from China!
We saw best parts - of course - about China, glorious historical places, energetic building nowadays, beautifully dressed people in the streets, luxorious hotels, where we lived,but we saw also people of countryside working on rice- and teafields, so much to think!
Lovely days to you, Ruth and wonderful waiting for wedding!

ccna said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
ccent

Susan said...

I am feeling the pull of the outdoors and quiet more and more these days, as it should be.

No twitter for me, thank you. That falls under the category of TMI. I don't even care about the minutia of my own life, much less anyone else's.

And I don't read the last page first, or look at the crossword puzzle answers. If I can't get the word, I leave it blank. I don't like to write book reviews, out of fear of revealing too much. Books should be a mystery.

Ruthie, I envy your l'atelier so much it makes my teeth ache.

Susan said...

I have to make one small correction to the above statement: I love hearing about your munutia, dear Ruthie!

Susan said...

Obviously, I meant minutia, not munutia!

Annie said...

Your home looks so wonderfully cosy!

dutchbaby said...

You create the most lovely, inspiring, calm spaces. Sigh...

Esther Garvi said...

To take a moment is something I learned when my mom fell ill, and I'm so glad I did. You don't regret afterwards that you took those moments. They are what really makes life meaningful. And they're everywhere, if you just stop to breath. I loved this post, so a big thank you from West Africa!

Carin said...

Beautiful picture. Such peace and tranquility.

You made me think!

shicat said...

Time out indeed. The older I get the more I enjoy home,peace and quiet. What a frenetic distracted society we have become. If you do own a t.v. and you turn on the news it's always BREAKING NEWS. Tiresome really.I am counting down the days until I can smell the lilacs and begin to enjoy a slower pace.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey so true Ruth, I come here to time out, you have great images, love the first one and relaxing words.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jill. It has been quite windy here the last couple of days, and with every new gust I smell lilacs from the different bushes/trees.

Ruth said...

Akim, your dad said a good thing. Hopefully he lived that way too, which is harder.

Ruth said...

DS, as Eckhart Tolle says, is there any moment to live but this one?

Ruth said...

Delphine, a road trip is just thing. I hope you and Chris will return full and raring to head into the warm season of work. Reading books and traveling - what a great combo.

Ruth said...

I enjoyed your rain, Kat.

Ruth said...

Christine, yay! That's very good.

And your post about being green in Italy (the things that Italians do that are greener than we do in the U.S.) took me back to images of Italy I first saw when my parents returned from their 1969 trip, seeing all that laundry hanging from windows. Maybe that's when I first fell for the laundry line.

Ruth said...

Oliag, I remember reading about Charlotte Bronte, and I believe the Brontes lived in a community where there was a big flood and bodies from the cemetery surfaced and were washed down the hillside. In Michaels' book she talks a lot about the graves being moved to other locations when the St. Lawrence Seaway went in. Some people wanted them to stay where they were, even if they would be covered by water. But the fear was that they would surface.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, I understand. I'm from a family of energetic do-ers, and it is seriously difficult for me to feel thoroughly good about myself when I haven't "accomplished anything." But I recognize the need to rejuvenate after stress.

Ruth said...

First, Loring - I'm so glad you're back! What amazing experiences you've had these past weeks.

I tell students I would like to understand economics without having to take a class or read a book. Of course even economics scholars don't really understand economics.

I have the will to go deeper in the areas that matter to me, but reality seems to get in the way, with fatigue, time constraints, etc. But I think what I need is to prioritize the main thing (for me) - people and understanding - and if I don't know as much information as I'd like, oh well.

Ruth said...

C.M., it has been delicious. But some of the time I am still dealing with monkey brain. What an existence!

Ruth said...

L o L, the studio is doing its best to call me out to sit still. In not too many pages I'm falling asleep.

I am trying not to judge Twitterers - in spite of my aversion too - because my "clients" (college students) are of the new technologies. A professor recently complained that students don't read any more, and another professor said, sure they do! But what do they read?

Ruth said...

Dear Leena, welcome back dear friend. I am happy you got into the countryside and teafields, this is what I would want to see too. Good you're back safe and sound. Now I can enjoy your photographs from the trip.

Ruth said...

Nice little promo, ccent.

Ruth said...

Hahaha, cute Susie Q. I definitely take you for drawing out moments to enjoy and soak in every bit of essence. And I didn't think you meant you weren't interested in my munutia, hehe.

You know l'atelier is the pivot of the universe don't you?

Ruth said...

Thank you, Annie. In a way this is my home - it's the studio, not our house. But I feel at home there in a way I don't anywhere else.

Ruth said...

It makes me happy you feel that, Dutchbaby.

Ruth said...

Esther, like watching the sun rise - one very good way to take a few moments every day.

Ruth said...

Oh dear, Carin - hope it doesn't last long! (Thinking of my last post here, hehe.)

Ruth said...

Cathy, it must have been a busy time with the death in your family. There is always an emptiness following that kind of activity, sometimes a sad emptiness, and sometimes it's good. I hope you can enjoy this gorgeous state we're in - it's been just amazing on my days off.

Ruth said...

Ohh, that's so nice, Bob!

Ruth said...

Just read today's rumi:

Music MasterYou that love lovers,
this is your home. Welcome.

In the midst of making form,
love made this form that melts form,
with love for the door
and soul for the vestibule.

Watch the dust grains
moving in the light near the window.

Their dance is our dance.

We rarely hear the inward music,
but we are all dancing to it nevertheless,
directed by the one who teaches us,
the pure joy of the sun,
our music master.

(translated by Coleman Barks)

Anet said...

Funny how preschoolers don't appreciate a "time out."
I only wish someone would put me in time out. The rule is one minute of time out for every year old you are. Now that would be a good long time out!
So glad to see the l'atelier
is back in use:)

Sandy said...

ah what a great post, loved the photos you put up and also checked out "small"....

Sounds like you really enjoyed that time off.

Kim said...

Ruth,
Thanks for sharing your moment with us- Life is Now. And you get that.

My little get away is our boat. It is the place where I can just be. Soon it will be most weekends that I can just be in the moment.

However, I am practicing being in the moment right now. I am blessed to have an office window that looks out to a spring green tree, dancing leaves and just in front of that window- an empty boss' chair (he's out today).

Peter said...

That first picture breaks my heart! I wouldn't care if it's a bit chilly, it's just too nice!

rauf said...

you have to tell me the difference between knowledge and learning Ruth, yes we have the knowledge but are we learning ?

A breed with very high IQ and no understanding or no commonsense is growing fast.

Now after a break i have many questions Ruth, have the humans evolved ? We have become more complicated but definitely not evolved.

Chill has over stayed at your place and heat is overstaying here.
The bugs and the birds are good teachers Ruth if we are willing to learn.

Ruth said...

That is good, Anet.

Babies and pre-schoolers don't like naps either. Boy do I love me a nap.

Ruth said...

Sandy, somehow I got myself back into posting a photo a day (used to do East Lansing Daily Photo), but I'm enjoying it at small. It seems to be different somehow - smaller.

I hope California isn't getting too hot for you and the grandbabies.

Ruth said...

You hit it there, Kim - we need to stop waiting for l'atelier or the boat for time outs. Those are important too, but we have to be meditative through the day if we're going to stay sane and not stressed. I can picture you there staring at your tree. Oh yes, boss being out really helps!

Ruth said...

Glad you like it, Peter - I think!

Ruth said...

So if we learn from Nature, rauf, I guess it will be about survival. What will survive of these complications?

I don't think it's an accident that people are drawn to "vintage" this and that - to a former time when we perceive life as slower, more organic. Every time has its negatives though.

What does this moment have to teach me?

VaNeSsA said...

This is why I (and all these other people)love you, Ruth. Your writing is so clear, so colorful, that I can feel myself in the space and place you describe. Thanks for another lovely post.

Ruth said...

Thank you, VaNeSsA, your warmth and kindness comes through the cyber waves.