Yesterday I wrote a blog post. Spent a long time writing it. When I finally persuaded myself to publish it, do you know what happened? It disappeared. It was gone. Presto chango! And that fragment of my soul which I’d agonized over sharing with you, dear readers, seemed to shrivel. I looked back over the afternoon spent writing a blog post which did not exist, and it felt like looking back over an entire life, entirely wasted.
The grace is that feelings are not realities, afternoons are not lifetimes, waste and profit are not, ultimately, measured by my ruler.
If I could, as I sometimes do in brief glimmers, let go of my compulsive grasp on my ruler, on my need to measure by my standard, to see results, I would melt less often over “wasted” afternoons. There is grace in letting go.
A week ago I drove into town and saw fourteen shiny red balloons ascending into the blue sky. I was there just at the right moment to see them let go, growing smaller and smaller amongst puffy white clouds.
The essential usefulness of a shiny red balloon is arguably small, how much smaller when let go into a wide sky, out of reach of human hands and eyes? And yet.
And yet, watching the balloons rise up and up out of reach of all measures of usefulness, I was filled with the delight that comes with things which exist quite outside practicality: glad, inexplicable things. There they were, reflecting sunlight, defying gravity, going who knows where to astonish who knows what placid birds with gratuitous shining.
What might it do to our doings if we were to take this approach to them? If we were to give up on measuring results, make them for the sheer joy of it, and let them go?
I don’t know the value of an afternoon spent writing a non-existent blog post, don’t know who profited by its inexplicable ascent to invisibility. But I know that, could I have — open handed — laughed as it flew away from me, that would have been a grand and a glad thing.
As it is, today, with a lifetime of afternoons spread unwasted before me, I laugh. You birds who meet my laughter, shining among your placid clouds, laugh with me, I implore: the world is full of glad, inexplicable things.