Tuesday, April 22, 2008

OKAY, my plate is full! Which is funny, because I thought it was full last week, and the week before that. But, no, now it's really full. Food running off the table full. The Ditchman Family has begun turning down invitations and is begging off prior commitments. There's just no more open space on the calendar to write them in.

Does anyone really use those calendars on their computer? I've got a great one but I just can't find the time to look at it. I've got a hundred other calendars around the house, but when it comes to the one on the computer, I remonstrate: No, please! Not one more thing to click! "But you could put all your calendars in one place." No, that would never work for me. Here at Casa Ditchman we've got the family birthday and anniversary calendar in the kitchen, the water delivery calendar on the fridge, the work schedule dry-erase calendar in the office, the two workout calendars to keep track of our exercise... Mrs. Ditchman has her appointment book. (Mine's in my head, which drives the boss crazy.) And then there's all of last year's calendars -and the year before- which we can't bring ourselves to throw away because they are like detailed journals of past doctor appointments and friends' parties we never want to forget. And still the days fly by, no slower, no faster.

I picture myself in extreme old age, napping in a room piled high with calendars. My own personal history in towering stacks, blocking the sunlight coming through the window. I suppose when I can't see the shadow of the blinds moving across the floor, that's when I'll cash in the ticket to the next life. Lord, I beseech thee: no calendars in Heaven.

No clocks, either. Drives people crazy that I don't wear a watch. I used to love watches when I was a kid. I remember the first digital watches to come out in the seventies. When they became affordable, I got a black Star Wars one with a red LED -it had a button you would push for the time to blink on. A few years after that I got one of the first calculator watches, which impressed all who met me (at age 10). Then, a couple years after that, I had a watch that told the temperature! Wow, that was sweet. I remember slyly cheating on a test in my eighth grade science class. The question was a math problem where I had to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius. I just casually looked at my watch! If only the rest of school were so easy.

Today, no watch. I don't like things hanging off me. I only wear clothes for warmth and I don't much like wearing shoes. I can't stand jewelry -though I have been caught wearing my puka shells on vacation (Hawaiian legend has it that the shells insure a peaceful and safe voyage on a long journey for sailors and their crews) and I've come to appreciate the thin band of platinum on my finger, because it reminds me of my beautiful wife, our terrific wedding, and the lifelong commitment I made that day. When I go for a run I start the stopwatch and just leave it somewhere. The thing slows me down.

It all slows me down, really, this constant looking to the time passing. I guess there are times when you want to move fast and times when you need some slowness, but I just want to be in the moment, whatever speed is called for, and yet not miss a beat of life. When I ran the Honolulu marathon I wore a timepiece for a new interval strategy of walking and running and walking and running -and it drove me crazy, this constant looking at the watch, this constant change of speed! I know that you tend to look at the watch less, the more you use it (I guess you just get the feel for it and find a rhythm) but I'm just trying to enjoy life, here. On a clock there is always something moving on display. And then there's the times that you just want to stop, at least once in a while. Or how about once a day?

But everything moves, when you think about it. Whether it's your beating heart, the wind in the yard, or my faithful housewife, or the spinning electrons in every atom or the heavenly bodies through space. Even in erosion and decay, nothing ever stops. The Catholic church argued against this for a while, but it was Galileo who remained unmoved in the debate. "It still moves," were his last words, if I recall.

I've heard it said that the slowest moving thing the human eye can detect is the sun moving across the sky. We've all seen the cool evening crawl: sitting on a beach at sunset and staring directly at the orange sun as that distant heavenly ornament, just this side of still, sank below the horizon. Can you think of anything you've seen that moves slower? Would you want to? Have you ever felt more at peace watching anything move faster?