I awake this morning at 5:30 — not as much of a hardship on the left coast, where I’ve been for the past few days with a prospective customer — and think, It can’t really be Christmas in ten days.
This year it seems that time is going faster to Christmas than ever before, and, even though I’ve been attending church regularly, I haven’t felt that Christmas spirit. Partly it’s work–I have been working on getting ready for this client visit for what seems like months. Partly it’s everything else. Singing with the BSO and the Pops is magnificent, and there is something really nice about a group that puts so much individual responsibility on its members and only rehearses a few times prior to each concert. But each concert is sung at least three times–many more, in the case of the Pops Christmas concerts–and they all back up on each other.
I feel as though I have lost any reflective time that I ever had. As I get older, I find that’s more precious than I had ever realized, and find that I feel much less myself with no time to settle my head.
To that end, I have discovered something about business travel. There is no better use for those hours stuck in an airplane than reading, or re-reading, books of poetry. I hadn’t touched Seamus Heaney’s work in several years, and his Seeing Things hit me with a ton of bricks as I was reading it on Monday, flying between Chicago and Sacramento:
You were the one for skylights. I opposed
Cutting into the seasoned tongue-and-groove
Of pitch pine. I liked it low and closed,
Its claustrophobic, nest-up-in-the-roof
Effect. I liked the snuff-dry feeling,
The perfect, trunk-lid fit of the old ceiling.
Under there, it was all hutch and hatch.
The blue slates kept the heat like midnight thatch.
But when the slates came off, extravagant
Sky entered and held surprise wide open.
For days I felt like an inhabitant
Of that house where the man sick of the palsy
Was lowered through the roof, had his sins forgiven,
Was healed, took up his bed and walked away.
I think I keep forgetting that time moving forward does not always mean an end, and that Christmas is here in its wide eyed astonishment whether I am the same person I was twenty years ago or not.