January 18, 2014

Late for New Year's

but right on time with its thought, this poem shared at The Writer’s Almanac yesterday perectly expresses a thought I've often considered—New Year's celebrates the passage of time.

Let other mornings honor the miraculous.
Eternity has festivals enough.
This is the feast of our mortality,
The most mundane and human holiday.

On other days we misinterpret time,
Pretending that we live the present moment.
But can this blur, this smudgy in-between,
This tiny fissure where the future drips

Into the past, this flyspeck we call now
Be our true habitat? The present is
The leaky palm of water that we skim
From the swift, silent river slipping by.

The new year always brings us what we want
Simply by bringing us along—to see
A calendar with every day uncrossed,
A field of snow without a single footprint.

The poem came to my attention right after I saw Ben and Tarka's post from Antarctica describing exhaustion, hunger, and anticipation of completing their journey—they've almost finished descending the Beardmore Glacier and are probably within three weeks of reaching Scott's Hut. After all their effort and achievement, it's the simple pleasures that they look forward to most.

Now the finish line is theoretically well under three weeks away, we're both also getting wildly excited about sitting down in a chair at a table, eating with a knife and fork, drinking out of a glass or a china mug, having a shower and, of course, enjoying the luxury of a sit-down loo. We haven't done any of these things for nearly three months.