Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Esteeming the Essential

As it is New Year’s Eve and the clock is counting down to the magic hour I simply want to close the year with a brief reminder to esteem the essential and eliminate the nonessential. So many truths are reinforced for me via my reading and this topic is no different. I recently read Old Songs in a New CafĂ© by Robert James Waller and he shares some timely insight that can help us move forward into a new and better year ahead. For when all is said and done, no matter how manicured our lawns or how spotless our homes, for example, we need to make time for each other.

“There’s also the problem of doing away with the clutter. Like good composition of any kind, coming to grips with life requires a certain elegance of lifestyle, not in the sense of being fancy, but rather a consideration of what can be discarded in favor of simplicity,” writes Waller. “I propose there is an insidious plot to steal our time in the world we have created, and it’s important to get rid of as many encumbrances as possible, including lawn care and excessive housekeeping. The sign my wife posted a long time ago says it rather nicely: ‘Today I Cherish, Tomorrow I Dust.’”

Friday, December 05, 2014

The Place Called Home

I have been thinking a lot about the place called home lately. And as a sign I saw at Cracker Barrel the other day eloquently states: “What I Love Most About My Home Is Who I Share It With.” As I have written here before, home to me is wherever my wife, Linda, and I are together. And for the time being, that is an antebellum house we are leasing here in Middle Tennessee. Yet travel writer Pico Iyer has written, “Home is the place where you become yourself…Heaven is the place where you think of nowhere else.” And lately I have been thinking of the sea.

For all of Middle Tennessee’s charms, and they are many, one thing it cannot supply is the beach vibe we love and were blessed to experience during our sabbatical on the island of Nantucket a couple of years ago. As blessed as we are here, I cannot help but reflect fondly upon our time spent enveloped by the sea. Even when we lived for several years in Central Florida before heading to Nantucket we furnished our Cape Cod style cottage with nautical prints of lighthouses and ships. And some of my favorite books include such titles as Gift From the Sea, Return to the Sea, and A Year by the Sea. I guess one could quip that the ocean “floats my boat.”

And so it was with much interest that I read this passage from a thought provoking book titled On Moving: A Writer’s Meditations on New Houses, Old Haunts, and Finding Home Again by Louise DeSalvo: “[The poet] Elizabeth Bishop loved to live in ‘temporary homes by the sea.’ They brought back the ease she’d sometimes felt in Nova Scotia. She liked the simplification, improvisation, and community these places could provide. ‘You live in this Robinson Crusoe atmosphere,’ she wrote, ‘…contriving and inventing.’ It is just such qualities that I find myself craving anew. So we shall see where all this carries us. But in the meantime, I am making myself at home for the holidays and hope you enjoy yours also.