January 19, 2006

Here in Ordinary Time

Living in Ordinary time.
Living in Ordinary time.
Gonna set my watch back to it
’cause you know that I’ve been through it.
Living in Ordinary time.
   - to tune "Livin' on Tulsa Time"

Take a look at a Lileks post, full of tales of flu and fury and daily activities with lines like "Well, it’s the middle of the day, and nothing’s happened." and yet also "I already miss the ring; that thing woke not just the dead, but dead Irish poets who died drunk..." I like the look of narrative, I like the cut of its jib and the fine ordering of paragraphs with words of varying length and complexity and humor like the line elsewhere seen of driving "to the limit of unticketability". But reading good prose is not completely dissimilar to watching kids fly towards a Slip 'n Slide - you want to play too. Reading as a kind of participatory sport.

Indeed self-indulgent posts like this are crucial to defeat the creeping professionalism of blogs. Professionalism in the form of it having to say something of Deep Meaning when sometimes, especially in this our deep winter, we'd rather explore squirrel holes. "Go long!" we used to say when it was our turn to QB, "go deep!". Sometimes there's more depth in play.

I've always taken pleasure and solace in statistics, where statistically something's always going on and where measurements give a faux sense of control. Old Farmer's Almanac has the goods on Old Man Winter, lays it all out for us, full of funny moon symbols and antique bromides. Winter, the Almanac says, consists of three months with temps averaging thirty-some degrees, Dec-Feb, and two months averaging fifty-some degrees, Nov & March. So it's a five month enterprise which means we are exactly half-way through. (I tend to gain weight over the winter due to a viscious cycle of making up for lack of exercise with increased food intake. Long bike rides past mirage-like farms are long past with only the stubs of two mile runs as replacement, carrying scarce desire for extension. But I find food is just as tasty, if not more so, than at any other time of year.)

Complaining about winter is unworthy of breath or pen or 1s and 0s. In an age of central heating it would dumb-down the word 'challenge' to use it in connection. A "challenge" is being a soldier in Iraq or a mother of six. Still I am cheered by the calendar, not just in a metaphorical sense as in 'this shall pass' but in its physicality, it's sweet-tempered, saint-dusted presence next to my desk. There are green-dotted days (Ordinary Time), red-dotted days (remembering a martyr) and opaque-dotted days that fall into some sort of "All Other" category: Baptism of the Lord, St. John Bosco, etc... Every day a reason to celebrate.

Cliches can be the most truthful and may even be the best way to say something, but I care too much for unpredictability. "A foolish consistency..." and don't we love to be surprised? I miss Kathy the Cheerful Carmelite and Dylan the poet, both fresh-voiced as summer-ripe blackberries. Now, trapped in prisons, their absence far from precludes the necessity of prayer but only begs it.

On the scale of the surprising, we might place Alito-saboteur Teddy Kennedy at one end, who hasn't said anything interesting in twenty years. But is that so bad? Some say the Pope is predictable since he's never going to say "promiscuity is good" or "God doesn't always love us". Yes unpredictability is overrated, rare as it is in this time (like all times) where most live as prisoners of the age, parroting our opinions from Oprah, who incidentally and predictably, far from being embarrassed over the Frey situation, simply avers that if a book moves you, it's got to be true. Call it a defining truth down, or as Shakespeare wrote, "truth's a dog must to kennel".

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