The essay I read in Zadie Smith’s “Intimations” this morning is appropriate to the day- today being Christmas Eve. I have been tying hard to not read more than one of her essays at a time, processing and pondering rather than my historical practice of snarfing down good writing. The Essay I tackled this morning was “Something to Do”, and while is starts off talking about the joy of having the entire pandemic join her in her normal practice of filling her day with writing, which is ‘something to do’, it is really a look at how easy it is to fill our day with busyness and feel that makes us good and productive. But carving our day into small slices does not always make appropriate space for Love.
Of Love ( not just the romantic schmoopy kind), she says:
“…without this element present, in some form, somewhere in our lives, there really is only time, and there will be too much of it… Love is not something to do, but something to go through- that must be why it frightens so many of us and why we so often approach it indirectly.”
But also she continues a bit later:
“If it weren’t for this habit of indirection, of course, there would be no culture in this world, and very little meaningful pleasure for any of us”
I wonder if that addendum of art and culture being a byproduct of our indirection is just a cover, an excuse for not letting go of the habit and the fear- what would life and art be like if we gave ourselves 100% to the experience of love- if we stopped measuring it and just experienced it?
As I build cooking schedules and Zoom schedules for Pandemic holiday visits with relatives, I am reaching down and trying to remember that everything I do should be an expression of that love- that if schedules slip, people are sad or cranky, or if something is not the shiny christmas perfect that always existing in my brain- It is OK.
Most important as we celebrate the holidays in this time of Covid pandemic ( and honestly, any year), is to be- to be present, not just to give a present.
I wish each and every one of you a holiday season filled with love and light- and I am excited to see what we make of the experience together.