Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor, rest, repeat

A long work day, and it was only late morning. I stretched (a rare moment when I remembered to do so), I snapped and cracked my old bones, I took my tea and stared out the window at the sprinkling rain.

Tea and its dual uses: it revs me up for work, hones my focus, then it steps me down from the work, relaxing, soothing. Each day is a yin-yang cycle of work and retreat, of leisure and business. The trick is to master the wavelength — to bring the cycle of rest and work into a nice, even hum, with the two poles evenly spaced, or at least as spaced as they should be, as the work or the rest calls for. The rest benefits from the work, the accomplishment, the contrast. The work benefits from the stretch, the window, the moment.

Curiously, just recently I ran across this passage in an old journal, part of an entry from Christmas Eve 2004 describing one of my old staring spots:

Just took a tea break. When I need a mid-afternoon breather, I like to take my tall tea mug to a landing on the building's east stairwell. What was once the main entrance, on Main Street, features seven stories of steps with a wide, gentle rise curling around a cavern of empty space all the way up. Just outside the fifth floor, outside the receptionist area, there's a 12- or 14-foot window overlooking Main Street. I like to lean on the bannister and stare at the city. The 320 Boston building looms to the left, with its unpredictable design and occasional arches. I'd love to find the access to that patio up there. The whole building looks like Philadelphia Hall, but on top its jutting corners and Tetris-like construction look positively Roman. The owner of the Indian art gallery across the street is invariably standing on the sidewalk, smoking. The construction crews are laboring even today to get the rest of Main Street reopened to traffic after a couple of decades as a pedestrian mall. The vantage point on the buildings to the southeast couldn't be better composed. I should take pictures. The work world that goes on outside my head. Important to remember.

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