Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Bit of Philosophizing

No, it's not snowing here. But this photo fits the part of the poem that I'm including in this post. It's called On the Flood Plain by Al Purdy, a Canadian poet. The entire poem is longer, and contains some possibly offensive language. It speaks of time and our relationship to time in the form of a man's thoughts standing on the edge of a frozen lake in the wintertime.

It's a poem I've come to love because I think it reflects so much truth. And it comforts me. I think about where I am in life and where I'd like to be and I can panic at the thought that there is just not enough time to do or become all that I would like. I have to choose. The best over the good. The excellent over the mediocre. I look back over what I've accomplished in life and can easily think, "I wasted this or that opportunity." But life is a mixed drink of laughter, tears, leisure, work, expenditure and restoration.

And who but God can judge whether time is spent well or poorly. I can, to a certain measure. But whereas some may suggest that time spent reading a novel is wasteful, I know that when life threatens to overwhelm, such a retreat is restorative and I emerge from that escape ready to face reality once again. Playing with paints and fabric offers me the same restorative effect.

Ultimately, it's the moments that count. Living fully in each moment, whether it be full of pain or joy. Each moment is enhanced or reflected by others, we cannot live in isolated chunks of time. I stand, you stand, in a point in time with the continuum of history behind us and eternity stretching ahead of us. In the poem there is a seamless interaction of stars and frozen water that provides an idealized image of life's moments.

As a human being moving through the landscape of time, connection is established between the past and the present in moments of deliberate attention. The past still lives and gives meaning to the present when humanity is aware of the importance of the present moment and its fleeting nature. The phrase “and there will be time” conveys a confidence in the future that is based on intentional choices in the present. As moments of significance increase in number they will, like the stars, reflect each other and give meaning to all of life.       

Whatever I have not discovered and enjoyed 
is still waiting for me 
and there will be time
but now these floating stars on the freezing lake
and music fills the darkness
holds me there listening
--it's a matter of separating these instants from others 
that have no significance 
so that they keep reflecting each other
a way to live and contain eternity
in which the moment is altered and expanded
my consciousness hung like a great silver metronome
suspended between stars
on the dark lake
and time pours itself into my cupped hands shimmering

taken from On the Flood Plain by Al Purdy


  1. Beautifully written, Lorrie. All so true, but I don't think I could have put it into words as well as you have - thank you. I'll have to look for the poem and read it in its entirety.

  2. Thank you Lorrie for sharing these special thoughts..take care..

  3. Lorrie,
    Such a thought provoking post. I'm not sure I could be so open on my blog, about my own thoughts and feelings. I often reflect on the past and worry that there will not be enough time to do all the things I'm "waiting" to do. I just hope & pray that there will be. Who knows?

  4. What incredible thoughts to share...I've reread it twice and am going to have to revisit it once again.

  5. This is a thoughtful post Lorrie! I'm a new reader to your blog but I have already noticed that you have had some significant adventures. Your post about living in Ecuador was fascinating. Time is relative and how we fill our time and how it fulfills us and those around us is significant.

  6. your blog is really lovely.


  7. Lorrie - Thanks for sharing this poem and your thoughts. You have helped me decide to make the choice to be present in each moment and to be an active participant in each day that I live. After glancing through your blog I realize that you have moved many times. I think that a person who moves becomes stronger in many ways and it also provides a different way of looking at the world. I feel lucky to have met the people we have in the seven different geographical locations we've lived. Victoria is my favourite city in the whole world but you will love your beautiful beach walks in Parksville. Sunshine Always - Sheila

  8. Lorrie, I think moving sort of uproots our spirits in many ways and maybe that makes us more contemplative... I know it does for me. I am visualizing the sparkling moments of life reflecting off one another, infinitely twinkling and keeping us aware of those special times. That's how special memories are, really. They are instants... moments in time that bring a smile to our lips and a twinkle to our eyes when we remember them. Thank God for those times to buoy us when we find ourselves in the doldrums. :)



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