Florida Pier       index

Lucid Days
“The Gentler View,” Harper’s Weekly (August 5, 1911) : 30 : link
same (U Mich copy/scan, via google) : link

      Being busy is an attitude of mind. There is no real diffrence between those mornings when we wake with a rush and set to work with a whirl and those other mornings when we wake and face a day cleared of everything. There is not a thing attacked excitedly on our busy days which could not be left undone without serious consequences, and on our free days a moment’s thought is sufficient to remind us of a dozen crucial matters, crying out in their need of being attended to immediately.
      Our interpretation of a day is not a matter we manage for ourselves. It is controlled by something within us that does not consult us when it makes up its mind. We stand and view the day impartially, and this little inner instrument registers the fact that everything is important, that life is pushing us from behind, and that we have not a moment to lose, or else for no reason at all it fails to register anything. We view the same objects, the need of learning, of living, of communicating thoughts and feelings, of doing and bustling — all the parts of life are as they were on the previous day — but none of them signify. The little instrument registers zero as far as these things are concerned, and there is instead — whether inside the instrument of inside one’s heart it is difficult to say — a funny, smiling feeling. It is a sensation of sitting on a wall, kicking one’s heels, and saying to the passing procession, “No you don’t, I march with you generally, but not to-day. I see where you are going, it does for a destination, but to-day I sit and I smile and I kick my heels, and there is no use in beckoning to me because I feel no call to come.” It is as though the clamor of life were just out of hearing, and all one’s attention taken up by the smiling in one’s heart. One’s breath comes softly, for fear of letting life’s noises break through the quiet, and also for fear of blurring any of the lovely silences that one hears on these smiling days, when the cessation of the din leaves one vibrant and sweetly a-quiver to being. Deep amusement rolls in rich, chuckling eddies through one’s being, amusement at everything — for everything is precisely what we are aware of at such times: at the cosmos, and we, the midgets, who, knowing nothing, retain our passion for giving things names.
      When the end of the day is reached we feel, not tired, but returned from an immeasurable journey, with the sense in us of distances covered and little-known countries visited. Instead of fatigue we feel refreshed, and this after a journey that took us so far that we reached ourselves. The beautiful, long, empty day has left us at the end with a sensation of having garnered new treasures, of a heart deliciously full of some vague possession that one cannot define unless it be the remembrance of consciousness. The next morning, when one wakes and gazes again at the passing procession, ready once more to take one’s part in it, it is seen that one need not joint it at the spot where one turned aside, but further on, for the day when one just smiled in one’s heart was a day of vast accomplishment.

      We are no longer known by the company we keep but by the emphasis we give. The weight we put into the expression of an idea is a clearly marked milestone on the route of our evolution. We cannot each speak and act differently from every one else, we can only say and do the same things with a different emphasis, so that two people uttering the same truism yet manage to show themselves as miles apart. One murmers the unnecessary balanlity lightly, as though, it being a thing so universally taken for granted, enunciation was hardldy required. We thus get her view of the thing’s importance, and, having gained her sense of proportion, we can discern her caliber as an archaeologist erects a temple from the measurements of a single plinth. The other person announces the same truism as though he were usshing a crowned head into a waiting arena. He flourishes the sentences into sound and snaps his lips together afterward by way of insuring the dramatic pause such a presence deserves. His manner implies that, though you may not be prepared to accept such a startling innovation in thought, he, for one, has determined to throw in his lot with it, be the consequences what they may, and he will not be astonished if you faint with surprise at his daring. He has only said what the other did, there is no question of their not agreeing, but for one a decade has past since the matter has been given a second thought, and for the other a plunge was made into the future to reach it. (Such a lurch forward was required that it is doubtful if a second mental move will ever be made. The two are apparently of the same mind, yet the former is in a droll predicament because, prevented from disagreeing with the thing said, she yet disagrees iolently with the degree of emphasis given. She squirms in extreme discomfort, longing to cry, “Yes, yes, I think so, too, only such a world less,” or “Such mountains and mountains more.” But degree is a thing undreamed of by the latter. He caught his idea in a paroxysms, and, clutching it about the neck, his weight drowns both.

rather along the lines of Emerson’s “We do not know today whether we are busy or idle.”
(Essays, Second Series, 1844) : 50 : link

28 August 2022