Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rhythm

You’re getting a bonus post today. Just as I got into the thick of what I wanted to say I realized it fed right into something I posted over two years ago. So I tacked that onto the end and today’s blog is twice as long as usual. I apologize if you have a short attention span and feel the need to bail out half-way through. Maybe you should re-consider the pace of your life.

I’ve been reading a book on how to slow your life down and find the rhythm of your life. Its title, aptly enough, is “Slow Time; Recovering the Natural Rhythm of Life” by Waverly Fitzgerald.

My life is really pretty slow already. I don’t have much of a schedule and I thank God for that every day. Now that I can sleep as late as I want in the morning I wake up about the same time I used to set the alarm for. Back then I cursed the obligation to get out of bed before I was ready. Nowadays, I stretch myself and roll over one more time just to prove I can. Then I hop out of bed at the excitement of having coffee waiting for me in the kitchen. Whoever invented the coffee pot timer should have won the Nobel Prize. I know I would have voted for them.

This book has been talking about our natural rhythms, the ups and downs, ebb and flow of life that just seems to happen. The rhythms can come in increments of hours, months (moons) or seasons.

I started noticing the rhythm of my life. Some sections of a day are slow and sluggish but then I get a bunch of hours where I think clearer and have more energy. Some people wake early and go to bed early. They are called “larks” and I am married to one. Others, like myself, are called “owls” and are the opposite. However the difference between our timetables is so minuscule as to be invisible. I think if we timed it, there would be maybe 20 minutes difference in our waking up and going to sleep. Since we have no bosses to watch how we spend our time (except each other) this is No Big Deal. We both like to be quiet when we wake. And sometimes an hour can go by without conversation even though we may be sitting less than three feet apart. This will all disappear once the weather warms because he will hit the ground running and be outside with projects galore and waiting for me to hold something for him while he either hammers, saws or screws it. But I will enjoy doing it.

We are discovering in retirement just how well-suited we are for each other. Maybe it’s kind of like that thing where people look like their dogs. I think Beaven and I just kind of grew into the same habits from constant exposure to each other. Especially now that he knows better than to try to balance the checkbook at 6 a.m. and ask me questions about an entry.

The book touches on the importance of Sabbath rest. Our pastor reminded us of this a couple of years ago by pointing out "Some things can be accomplished only in a state of rest even by God."

I’ve bought the seed potatoes and onion sets but haven’t started planting anything yet. I had a dear adopted grandmother who lived across the alley from us early in marriage and she taught me many things. She gardened not by the moon as some people do but by the holidays. You needed to get your potatoes in the ground by Valentine’s Day come hell or high water. Well, I haven’t done that yet mostly because instead of high water this year we had a foot of snow and I draw the line at gardening in the snow. It just seems unnatural. Oma’s goal was to keep her tomatoes going until December and I’ll never forget how proud she was the year she still had cherry tomatoes at Christmas.

I got to the part in the book when we graduated from our natural rhythms to the phases of the moon and tides. I have no personal reference point with this phenomenon, spending my whole life landlocked and all. I looked them up on the internet but they still don’t make sense.

When I got to the chapter on calendars I remembered all of my objections to the calendar. Humanity has been trying to come up with the perfect calendar to record earth's journey around the sun since time began and still can't get it right.

Whoever came up with the modern calendar was a real bozo. I think it was some Roman emperor so I guess he’s dead as a doornail and I’m safe calling him a bozo. You gotta be really careful who you call a bozo nowadays; people get pretty touchy.

At any rate, whichever bozo arranged things this way was obviously not a working mom who had to close out the year-end books and return Christmas presents the same week. As a recovering accountant I’ve long wished to re-arrange some of the stupid mistakes the calendar presents.

All the holidays are in the wrong month. Like Christmas, for instance. I’ve read that Jesus wasn’t really born in December. In all probability he was born in the spring when those shepherds were outdoors watching their flocks. Shepherds wouldn’t keep their sheep in open fields in the winter, would they? Makes sense to me. The December date was picked when early Christians got nervous because they noticed the pagans were having a lot of fun celebrating the winter solstice in mid-December and they wanted to have some fun, too. So they started celebrating Christmas in December, promoted it to a major holiday and invented Santa Claus and malls.

So Christmas belongs in spring. We’d have to give up snowmen and reindeer pulling sleds. But we could have some great barbecues.

The other advantage of moving Christmas to spring is to get more time for the accountants to get stuff done. We don’t need any fun holidays in December to distract anyone. The accountants need for all the worker bees to be in their cubicles with their minds on end of the year adjustments and getting the data correct. When I worked in accounting, I never really minded working on New Year’s Day. I was always the only person in the building. I had all the numbers to myself and they couldn’t jump around on me. I could go into the warehouse to check an inventory count if I wanted. I loved working on New Year’s Day.

The more I thought about how messed up the calendar is (July 4th in such heat? Give me a break.), the more I figured out great ways to improve it. I say we should get the holidays out of the extreme weather and into times we can really enjoy ourselves. Here are my suggestions:

January- Let’s turn Martin Luther King Day into something more than a footnote. It could be an international brotherhood day when people of different cultures can celebrate our differences and eat each other’s exotic foods. Every major holiday has its own cuisine. November and December have turkey. July has hotdogs. Maybe January could have an assortment of international treats like eggrolls, baklava, pizza and fried chicken. I could go for that in a heartbeat.

February- We have to take Valentines Day out of February. The roads get too icy for high school kids to be driving around in the dark to the Sweetheart Ball while their hormones are on high. Most of the girls are wearing next to nothing. What happens if there’s a wreck and she has to stand outside and flag down a ride? February is a short month; I don’t think we’d even notice if February didn’t have a holiday.

March – Currently, March does not have any holiday. That’s a waste. Move Christmas here. We’ll have much better weather for shopping.

April- Easter is just really, really complicated. Are you ready? Easter is always on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the first day of Spring (vernal equinox) which is always March 21st. Got that? Are you still awake? Let’s give Easter a real date so we don’t have to stick our heads outside and look for the moon.

But whatever we do with Easter we must remember to keep it away from April 15. We don’t want anyone traveling out of town visiting relatives when they need to be at home doing their taxes. I’m tempted to eliminate holidays in April but don’t want to waste the good weather.

May- only has Mothers Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day is OK here but it rains a lot in May. Let’s move Mothers Day (see September)

June- nothing here but Fathers Day yet the weather is perfect for picnics. We should move Labor Day to June. Maybe we could even move the presidential election to June. June is too great a month to waste on vacations.

July- I propose we eliminate holidays in July and August. The weather is far too hot then.

August- without any major holidays in this month people could very quietly celebrate one of my favorite minor holidays: August 8th, the day Richard Nixon resigned. My ex-sister-in-law always takes that day off from work. There’s no reason you couldn’t do it, too. Just call in sick if you don’t want your boss to know what a radical pinko commie you are.

September- We could move Mothers Day and Fathers Day to September and call it a generic “Be Nice to Old People Day”. That way we could celebrate the grandparents who are raising children while the parents serve time in jail. I’m not sure we need separate days for mothers and fathers. Many of them are working both jobs already.

October- Nothing much happens here except for Halloween. The weather in October is too nice to waste it. We could move another holiday here. Is it possible to move July 4th to October? Come on, work with me here. If we can celebrate Christ’s birthday in the wrong season why not July 4th? We don’t have to call it July 4th, you know. A lot of people call it Independence Day.

November- Here’s one holiday I agree with. We should definitely keep Thanksgiving in November. However, the food is all wrong. If we are to celebrate the harvest shouldn’t we do it in June when vegetables are actually still in season? The only thing good in November is pumpkins. Even the sweet potatoes are past their prime in November. We can keep the turkey and dressing but maybe add chili and stew.

December- we could keep this month free by moving Christmas to March. People would have the entire month to balance their checkbooks. Or take some time to learn how to cook Baklava for the new International Brotherhood Day.

Now, these changes are only a start. Send me your suggestions and we’ll consider them.

3 comments:

Heather said...

Love it! Why don't we add Chinese New Year? Move all the fireworks and fun superstitions into the late winter when everyone's got the blahs?
And Holi, the Indian holiday where people throw bright colored powder at each other, happens in the spring. I'm not at all sure what the significance is, but heck, I don't know what the significance of St Patrick's Day is, either. That never stopped anyone from wearing their "Kiss me, I'm Irish" sweatshirt and drinking green beer.

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

Dear Jane,

I got here because you mentioned my book. It sounds like you are making good use of it! I love the idea of changing all the holidays! Your suggestions make a lot of sense. Unfortunately most attempts to make the calendar more rational have failed. I think we are stuck with it.

wanderlisa said...

Hi Jane! I’m glad you pointed me to this date on your blog. I think it is my favorite among all of your blog entries! I have added the book to my reading list, as well.

Thanks for clarifying the determination of Easter's date each year. I have always found that confusing. Not surprisingly, Nyepi (the Balinese new year) is based on the lunisolar cycle, as well. It always falls the day after the first new moon after the spring equinox.

By the way, wow, you would have loved the sight of the sky on Nyepi night. With lights turned off across the entire island and no clouds in the sky that evening, the star scene was breath-slowing -- surely a much more accurate description than "breathtaking," which I almost wrote. :)

Love from Bali...