August 16, 2012

This & That



My boss Philip took me aback in a meeting by asking what my favorite vacation moment in Hilton Head was. Kind of a wildcard since he generally only asks work-related questions in a setting like that. I might've said "all of it" but truly I think it was exploring those bike paths surrounded by glorious beds of red pine needles and virgin jungle. My other thought was saying, "oh, each day's third beer."

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Feast of the Assumption yesterday and a rare "command performance", which is what I call days of obligation. I'm glad the Church has these days because I'm often edified by these wonderful feasts. It feels right to gather to recognize Our Lady's assumption in part because there's that tradition that the apostles were all present at it as well - that God miraculously arranged that they be there. I've always loved that, historically true or not.

I always want to say, "We assume Mary's in Heaven and that's why we call it the Assumption." Juvenile, yes, but it never seems to get old. Might be my favorite feast. It's joyous, it's triumphant, it's got good hymns and it's not suffocatingly crowded like Christmas and Easter.

I tend to get overly bogged down with vagaries that don't particularly appeal to me but appeal to others or need to be contextualized. Like the Magnificat, which was read at mass. I feel sheepish to confess that I like Elizabeth's husband's prayer (read for Morning Prayer in the Lit of Hours) better. Seems to me when we celebrate the feast of the Assumption we are also celebrating Mary's leave-taking from culture: she now transcends it, which is shown by her many appearances/apparitions in different guises around the world.

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Oh but come now, won't I miss work when it's gone? What will I have to push against? How will the daytime hours shine when they've no foil? Tell me truly, does not the Midwesterner appreciate the sun more than the Los Angeles'r, the latter for whom warm temps are taken for granted? Similarly how can one appreciate time off work without time at work?

We listened to a informational conference call on retirement yesterday and all they talked about was money: incoming and outgoing. But should we not fear the lack of a work as much as we fear outliving our savings?

Amy Welborn sees the inability to retire as a GOOD thing! How's that for a counter-cultural view. She writes also of the beach as her perfect venue:
"When I consider where I could see myself spending the rest of my days, especially once the boys are up and out (I don’t say 'retired' because there’s no 'retirement' for a writer, and that I see as a good thing)…it’s the beach I see. More precisely, I see myself as one of those wizened, brown women you see striding on the beach in the early morning, firmly and purposefully. She never looks at you, the visitor, the tourist. She doesn’t seem to resent you, but neither does she have much use for you. I don’t know what she does the rest of the day, but in the morning and early evening, she’s out there, striding – or maybe sometimes riding a bike. Sometimes with a dog, sometimes with a cigarette.
Sans cigarette, that’s me, I hope.

I also figure that if I live on or near the beach, my children will always be ready to visit, yes?

Actual visits to the beach sometimes give me pause on that goal, though. That sandy state of life starts to get on my nerves after a bit, and I wonder about the folly of it all – living in a home that might be knocked down tomorrow..to be rebuilt..and knocked around again…and rebuilt. I’m not sensing that many – if any – of the houses around here are the homes of permanent residents – it’s got a more vacation rental feel up and down and all around than some parts of Florida I’ve been to, as well as Maine (which, I hasten to add, holds no temptation for me…I spent every summer there as a child and have spent many days on beaches in southern Maine, and it’s all very nice, because it’s the beach..but that water. Sorry, but Florida and Alabama have spoiled me.)

The residents here don’t seem to live on the beach, but back away from it, more in the direction of the bays and channels – which is probably far more sensible, when you think about it.

Me? Not a boat person, so it’s the beach, not the bays, for me. So yes, it’s crazy and impractical, I imagine, but still. I can’t imagine myself anyplace else when I hit that age when I’ll be alone, yet still able to get around. Here – or somewhere like it – on the deck (after my walk) , a steady breeze, the constant muted sound of the surf reminding me of how big life is, and how it really does go on far beyond what I can see right now."

2 comments:

William Luse said...

Love that painting at the top, and the words "leave-taking from culture."

Amy's words always carry an unintended poignancy for those who know her, because all her thoughts of the future are shadowed by a great absence.

TS said...

Well-said about Amy, Bill. Beautiful sentence.