Friday, April 18, 2014


For those with backgrounds similar to mine, today is Good Friday, the commemoration of the Crucifixion through which Christian doctrine holds that humanity was offered its chance at redemption from sin. (Chance, of course, because much Christian doctrine also holds that salvation has to be sought by the individual. Christ made it available, but the individual has to accept it and the terms upon which it is offered. It is an end-user licensing agreement many do not read, or read as they ought. But I have noted such things, and my hypocrisy, before.) There is a part of me that wants to take this day as one of sober, somber reflection. Another part of me, though, realizes that there is work to do--there is always work to do--and knows that I have to go and do it.

I think I am hardly unique in it. Certainly, I will not be the only person heading to work today. I do not claim any special insight, as though my feeling of the lack of contemplation is greater than that of others. There is no way to compare such things, really, and it is both foolish and insulting to try. But I may be in a position to comment on the lack of contemplation itself, given that I work in a field that depends upon it and am (at least in theory) trained extensively in it. I rely upon it for my work, time spent sitting and thinking of things, usually trying to get those thoughts onto some kind of page in some kind of form so that their ephemeral, transitory nature does not allow a good idea to flit away unmarked. Even if the writing binds the idea in fetters of ink or pixel and limits it thereby,* if it escapes absent some kind of enfleshing, it vanishes and the memory of having had it pains.

Given that I do devote much time to contemplation, only after which I can be productive as I approach The Work, I am aware as viscerally as anyone can be of the effects of its lack. And as I look about me and see what it is that people do when they are forced to always be in a rush to get things done (as here), I see that the effects fall upon them, as well, even if they are not always aware of it. (That they are not becomes clear as soon as they are asked after it. Too many are so habituated to the lack that they do not notice it; contemplation is a thing unknown to them anymore, and many of them reject it from fear or discomfort. But as physical exercise makes the muscles sore to good effect, the mental exercise of contemplation produces discomfort that provides benefit in the resolution far more than in the avoidance.) Many problems would be solved if people would stop and think before rushing into action; others would never be given the chance to occur. And while it is true that there are times that admit of no delay, they need not be so frequent as they are allowed to be.

It seems that one of the things that less crassly commercial holidays permit is a space for reflection and contemplation. They potentially offer time to stop and think, even as they disturb or interrupt the normal social flow for other reasons, and we need more of that time. I need more of it to work on The Work. The lot of us need it to try to correct the errors we too often make.

*I wonder if this metaphor has been explored.

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