Sunday, February 24, 2008

Time enough for all that I must do

I have a new writing project, which I'm not going to write about here until I'm further along in it. This project has both stretched me thin and caused me to temporarily lay aside some other things I was working on or working up to.

I found a passage in Emerson's writing applicable to this. I must first digress to tell about yesterday's mundane activities. Part of this was foraging in used bookstores--just two, actually: the Friendly Bookstore in Rogers, run by the Friends of the Rogers Library, and the Salvation Army thrift store in Rogers. We also spent a pleasant hour at the Bentonville library, a new facility that has a coffee bar (I bought a large house blend) and plenty of space to simply browse and read at leisure. But I prate. At the Friendly Bookstore, I found three volumes I wanted. Two are somewhat inconsequential, but the third is a find: The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Volume 2, printed in 1888. I have read both volumes 1 and 2 of this work, which is available in the public domain, specifically at Project Gutenberg, but there is something about having the words in your hand, rather than on the screen. The feel of the book, the care to protect its fragile condition, the sight of the browning pages, are all wonders when compared to pixels and plastic, electricity and fans, which are lost when the power ceases.

So of course I opened this book and began reading. Since this is volume 2 only, I had a distinct feeling of coming in on the middle of something. But Emerson, in his wisdom, rewarded me for being an interloper. After covering life's business, he turned to his own writing and had this to say: "I had it fully in my heart to write at large leisure in noble mornings opened by prayer or readings from Plato or whomsoever else is dearest to the Morning Muse, a new chapter on Poetry, for which all readings, all studies, are but preparation; but now it is July, and my chapter is in rudest beginnings. Yet when I go out of doors in the summer night, and see how high the stars are, I am persuaded that there is time enough for all that I must do; and the good world manifests very little impatience."

So much to consider in these words, not the words of a well-worked lecture or chapter in a non-fiction book, but a simple letter to a friend, possibly not even proof-read as they were jotted down, possibly with no draft and revision. "There is time enough for all that I must do." That is something I really need to learn. With this new project started and uncomplete projects dropped or delayed, I need to say this over and over again, and take it to heart. Fifty-six years are gone; who knows how many are ahead. There is time enough, time enough.

By the way, this Blogger software is messing up the line spacing whenever I use the quote feature, so I'm not going to use the quote feature for a while, not until I can figure out how to do it right.

2 comments:

Richard said...

Good thoughts, Dave...something I certainly needed to hear. I tend to sense a need to accomplish more than time or ability will allow. Thanks for opening your exploration of Emerson with us...some day I may get to him myself, there's time enough.

I don't know why the block quote feature messes up...I've noticed that myself...I tend to use italics instead to set of larger quotes. Maybe they will remedy it in the near future - I'm sure there is a way to correct it if you read HTML...but I'm ignorant when it comes to this language. Maybe some day I'll learn it, I suppose there is time enough.

If not, there is at least time enough to do all that I should do. Hope you guys have a great week. Blessings ~ RLS

J.M.Cornwell said...

Try a simple italics font for quote to get the lines right. They work for me.

I've always felt like reading letters from writers still living a bit like listening through the keyhole: exciting and forbidden. However, reading the letters of writers who have died is something else again. It's a small conceit, but a conceit nevertheless.

Sometimes it feels as if there is no time at all left because tomorrow is not guaranteed, and yet it's hard not to stop and smell the lilacs blooming or watch the snow fall or look up at the night or early morning sky and be caught up in the stars. I think there's always a little time left for that.