Stealing Moments

Yesterday I chatted with a lovely friend and coworker of mine. While we talked about almost everything under the sun, the topic of what time we wake up came up. First of all, if we had not talked about our wake up times I would have never guessed that I was such an outlier. While I shoot out of bed every morning at 6am, my dear friend does not wake up until 11am.

My wake up time, having been disclosed, prompted her to ask me what I had accomplished that day. I looked around. I shifted the things in my arms. I thought long and hard. I could not come up with a concrete example of something that I had accomplished. I went to class? That is an accomplishment. I took a test? I suppose that is necessary. But other than those few trivial things I could not give her an answer that would lay claim to my needing to wake up at 6am to get things done.

The real problem and the guilt emerged when I was thinking about my day. I did all the necessary things, entered data for my research assistant position, studied at the library for the exam that I had that afternoon, ate lunch, studied more, took the exam. Fini. After the exam, however, I decided to, instead of throwing myself into the assignments whose due dates are looming this very evening, go to the library and find out who Modigliani was and what sort of noses he draws.

Seems a bit odd, I know. I was browsing in the bookstore the other day and came across a variety of classics. I am not sure which book I had picked up, because I had touched a many on this trip, all I can remember is that the text said something like “she had a Modigliani nose”. It’s not uncommon to have a song get stuck my head, it is very regular, however, that I get a word or a phrase stuck in my head. So my “she had a Modigliani nose” phrase danced and bounced around in my brain for quite some time before I set out on a mission to discover who he was and what this nose would look like.

After taking my exam, I scurried to the library, stopping to grab some tea, and ran up to the fourth floor in search of a book about Modigliani. It was like a treasure hunt, dewy decimal style. I finally came across the section of Italian artists and plopped myself on the ground and began my investigation. There I was sitting in the middle of the aisle, of which was so narrow that my shoulders could barely squeak through without touching the books on either side, with books spread across my lap, tea in hand, reading. Taking time to learn something not for a test, not for a class, but for me as a human being.

Modigliani is fascinating.

One of my favorite lines from one of his biographies was describing his artwork and his technique. It was described as “the amazing sureness of their line”. I loved that quote. The amazing sureness. I kept repeating it to myself. The amazing sureness. The amazing sureness. It not only sounds beautiful, but it is beauty manifested in the quintessential imagery of the mind.

I tell this story for no other reason than to depict the feeling that I have been stealing moments instead of relishing in my moments. I read a passage in the Bible, or perhaps it was on a blog, about the need for rest and quietude. The passage said that even God took many breaks to be with nature and pray. Imagine, God needing to take a break. Surely if He knows that power of escaping one’s situation then it must be necessary if not healthy.

Even in my counseling session where I learned how to meditate, the counselor said how society looks down on people who rest, who take a break, who literally take a breather. They are seen as lazy. There is this constant need to be working and to be doing something all the time, perhaps a characteristic that is inherent to the American culture. But from this lifestyle one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual reserves are drained. Rest is necessary. Going even further, God loves me as I am. He loves you as you are as well. He takes you as the hot mess that you are. He wants you to be that way. You are enough. I am enough just as I am, without awards, high GPAs, graduate school applications, jobs, etc.

So as I was standing out in the cold night air, puzzled beyond belief about the sudden onset of guilt and remorse about my day, I realized more than ever that breaking my routine and breaking my day did not break me.

In fact, it lifted me to new heights. I spent time with myself, Modigliani, and with God.

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