Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rain, Recovery, and Andrew Marvell

I saw something this evening I hadn't seen in a very long time: a real, honest-to-God, magnificent summer thunderstorm.

We don't exactly have those in Las Vegas. It only rained a few times in the years that I lived there and on those rare occasions there was only a sad little drizzle of rain (it is the desert, after all).

I had forgotten how beautiful it is when the sky opens up and the rain comes pouring out. The thunder. The lightning. The wind. The crash of air against air. And that feeling after when the black sky dissolves and the sun comes out again as if nothing happened.

Without dragging you (too far) down into the depths of a cheesy metaphor, there is something calming about that. I reveled in the storm's beauty. And for a moment I was afraid when the television flashed that someone near the airport had reported a small funnel cloud. But my fears passed when I saw the sun come out. The earth was covered in water. The road I had been driving on just a few hours prior was completely flooded. The news station showed people evacuating an elderly lady from her flooded car. Thousands and thousands of people in our city are without electricity. It had the same effect on me as each time I see the ocean-- it reminded me how small we all are, how short our lives are, and how fragile.

We have no promise of tomorrow. All we have is the moment. This moment. That's really all we can count on--this very moment that we are existing.

Why spend it miserable? Or angry? Or afraid?

Or jealous? Or scared? Or insecure?

Sitting on the porch after the storm had ended, the words of Mr. Andrew Marvell meandered into my brain for the first time in a very long time. For those of you who aren't familiar, or maybe have forgotten, (I think people read Marvell in high school? I know I did. Then again in college. I was an English major.) Anyway, he was one of the metaphysical poets who wrote a very famous Carpe Diem! poem called "To His Coy Mistress" in which the speaker tries to convince the object of his affection to sleep with him because time, well, it's fleeting.

But it really is. All sexual innuendos aside, the words I remembered tonight from Marvell's poem were:

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near

And then the final couplet:

Thus though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run

I have been thinking a lot (not just since I began recovery, but mostly since I started this blog) about how fleeting time really is. It may seem a clichè or vapid or unimportant concept to consider. Yes, it's been thought of since the beginning of time--when Marvell was writing in the 17th century, before, and after. Why? Because it's true. We need to make the most of the short time we have on earth. Maybe this doesn't hit home for anyone else but me. I have wasted so much of my life.

Not anymore.

It's time to start living.

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