Saturday, September 19, 2009

3:43PM, from a bench

Saturday was beautiful. I woke up late to errands at the post office, a quick brunch of hazelnut spread liberally scraped onto toast with an apple on the side, and an afternoon at the Boston Public Library spent absorbing cognitive science theories on learning and its applications, and reading about Portraiture [the research method that lies closest to my heart that I have discovered just this semester and leapt in with full force despite the fact that all of my classes are at the Education school, and I am not an Education student]. Oh, but to realize that so much of what I have done in life revolves around teaching! These are the happy types of revelations.

The plan was to walk from Copley through the Public Gardens midafternoon to soak up some sunshine and continue on to the Commons for Hemp Fest to possibly to meet up with some friends. As I ambled through the Public Gardens, the strains of heavy rock pulsed towards me from the general direction of my intended destination and I decided, "You know, I think I'll pass," then retraced my steps back towards a stretch of benches strewn with sunlight that I had passed just moments earlier.

It is such a luxury to steal away moments from the student life and slip back into the rhythm of normal life, a life with room [and permission] on the calendar for that last sunny Saturday afternoon on the grass in the Public Gardens before the impending autumnal chill makes it too cold for all but the most diehard sun seekers. The type of afternoon that brides grasp at for picturesque wedding photos with the full complement of bridal parties in tow. I see two such parties now in the Gardens, the bridesmaids tottering along on stilettos and trying not to appear too self-conscious of their bodies tightly wrapped in brightly hued dresses, the men standing about trying not to look too sheepish or bored.

I don't know if I'm learning to manage the workload better, or if it just that I am managing my time better. Procrastination, as usual, is an ever present threat, but it is here, oddly enough, that crafting swoops in to save the day. Whereas last year I might have sought refuge in the abyss of Internet meanderings for hours on end, I now find myself reaching for my knitting bag or wandering over to the pile of scraps waiting to be prepped for quilt construction. Because unlike the Internet which involves passive reception of other people's work and creativity, crafting engages my creativity, asks my active involvement in the process of making. This frees my mind to hear the whisperings of the subconscious, whether it is reminding me of important items that had slid off my list, altering the mental scenery just enough that the Most Daunting Task no longer feels so difficult to start, or finding that perfect Small But Achievable to jumpstart my next phase of productivity. The rhythm of needles and yarn unknots my train of thought, whereas the Internet clutters the brain so that the urgings and insights of the subconscious are obscured even further. Whereas last year I used crafting to hide from my studies and the larger questions that school has brought to light, this year crafting gently pushes me forward.

So I put in a couple lines on my mother's scarf - 200 stitches closer to completion of her Christmas present, I am ahead of myself this year - every single one a thanks for the gifts she hands me every day: the wisdom of her counsel, the patience and love as she hears me through my tribulations large and small, the generosity of her encouragement and her moral support.

And then I move back into the world of books and theories and p-values so that I can emerge on afternoons such as this one, and listen to the street performer with his guitar that pushes back against the insistent bass of Hemp Fest across the street, the parents remarking over their son's unerring ability to toddle towards each and every puddle that crosses his path, the tourists who pause next to me to take in the beauty of a Boston afternoon as the locals would, or the four friends sprawled out in a row in front of Frog Pond, rising occasionally to share a joke before flopping down in comfortable silence once more.

Though I am reminded of my own happy memories of similar form in cities across this world with various friends and at various times in my life, and though a very small part of me longs to share this moment with another or several others, most every cell in my body is thankful for both the solitude and the anonymity, and for this stolen hour.


Zonnah said...

I love just sitting in the sun. The place in my house that I love to sit is on my couch because in the morning the sun shines in and it feels so good :) I am glad you got to have that hour :)

Di said...

It sounds like the perfect Saturday afternoon - enjoying the last parts of summer, mentally preparing for all that lies ahead....

Thank you also for the words on Boston, somewhere I used to visit but since my aunt moved north to New Hampshire I haven't been back....which is a shame!