bunt sign

Monday, January 15, 2001

Unaware that hell had frozen over, I sat down to watch what I thought would be a pair of entertaining, if predictable, football playoff games yesterday. In fact, they were neither, and my interest wavered. I found myself flipping around the movie channels, watching bits and pieces of films I'd seen before about physically flawed heart-of-gold types (The Man Without a Face, The Mighty), but eventually I wandered up the stairs to the loft and pulled out the Willie Morris book I'm reading.

At times during the day I also did some recreational sleeping (no less than two naps) and some bird watching. I spotted the neighborhood pheasant a couple of times, and even pulled on my jeans and sneakers and tried to get in position for a photo, to no avail, alas.

A flock of a dozen or so robins invaded my yard for a time, pulling up some juicy worms before flying off to their next destination. It's the first time I've seen any of this species here, and they're hard to miss, with their bright red breasts and imperious attitudes.

They're about twice the size of the song sparrows that think of my garden as their own, and those natives cleared out for a time when the robins thundered through. They're not much bigger than the pair of blue jays that come around, but the jays are skittish and tend to flee at the slightest interruption in the prevailing stillness and serenity.

The only other species I see with any regularity is the California towhee, a sadly drab gray-brown bird that I sometimes overlook amid the array of more striking colors.

I shouldn't have spent the day reading, sleeping and watching the birds. Probably. I probably should have got a head start on this week's work, or cleaned the house and garage some, or something. But I was going to waste it watching football, and I think I spent it rather more judiciously than that, at least.

And I'm not the best judge of how to use time to advantage. Most of it just wafts by, like a breeze, starting and ending nowhere in particular. Sometimes I have a plan, and stick to it, and feel good about getting something done. But even after that, I'm no better a person.

How can I be sure that reading slash sleeping slash communing with nature wasn't the best way to make this Sunday, now gone forever, count for something? After all, reading engages the mind, sleeping replenishes the body, and nature invigorates the spirit. Isn't that enough?

Or do I now have to do something with that newly engaged mind, replenished body and invigorated spirit, in order to make it meaningful? What? Does it, whatever it is that I do, have to make an impact on society and make the world a better place? Is my life, otherwise, a waste? (And in that case, might I not just as well have spent the day sprawled on the couch numbly watching Kerry Collins and Trent Dilfer, out of all the possibilities, fight their way into the Super Bowl?)

On the other hand (and there is always another hand), if I improve myself, in whatever fashion and by whatever means, do I not in fact improve the world? Even, that is, if I do nothing more than write a bit more coherently and smile a bit more readily, as a result of this improvement?

I could, I suppose, attempt to write a luminous sonnet or a brilliant polemic, but what if I write nothing more substantial than an online journal read only by a handful of (highly discriminating) people every day?

I might devote myself to scientific research or charitable works, but perhaps I'll merely try to be a pleasant presence in the lives of the few people I come into contact with each day. That's probably the limit of any social engineering I should aspire to, in any event.

No use overreaching, just because I had a good day.

Today we celebrate the birthday of a man whose life still has meaning, decades after his death. As much violence as we've suffered in the sixties and the years since, it would have been so much worse if Martin Luther King hadn't lived. He gave up his freedom, and eventually his life, to bring people together. We are a better society because of his heart and his eloquence. His life was cut short, but no one could have lived long enough to fulfill his dream alone. His wisdom and faith planted a seed that must be nourished until it can grow freely.

I have a dream. In my dream Dr. King comes back and sees what little progress we've made since his passing, and he reminds us that we can live as one people, united in the cause of justice, equality, and respect for one another. It's a dream to believe that one person could make that much difference, but I know it's possible, because such a man lived among us once. It's up to us to keep the dream alive.

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Latest recommendation:

Karen, Thought Experiment, January 13, Puts you there, where things are hollow

(I don't know if you're reading Karen's journal regularly, but as of this writing she's still pregnant and recording it in a way even we fortunately deprived males can understand ... as much as possible, anyway. This entry is another gem.)

Other recent recommendations can be found on the links page.
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The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky,
Are also in the faces of people going by.