The challenge of Mondays is that so much that seems possible when a body is freed from certain daily obligations––traffic, work schedules, emails, meetings, bells––suddenly seems to slip away. It’s a tragic feeling, one I routinely brace for every Sunday afternoon into evening.
I am constantly having to remind myself (every Monday, and for the rest of the week) that the other part of the challenge is to find a way to grasp those ephemeral beauties again and hold them close––even while running in worn shoes, unlaced, in the cold rain, on a sore knee with a sense that it will be some time before you can stop again.
To hold and keep holding, this is the challenge. Like it’s your life, as the saying goes. Because, of course, that is exactly what it is. And although it has a way of coming into such sharp focus on Mondays, it’s really the challenge of a lifetime.
To resist, when the cold blood runs, the pull of despair, and keep the body from flight even as retreat remains a perpetual dream. To hold here, ever weary of the ministrations of empire, of duty, of daily calamity, and rise to the work, as Aurelius put it, of a human being.
So much of this is learning, and so much of learning is holding the gaze on what is intolerable until some new sense can grow to accommodate what the old will not bear. Only to have to repeat the process with each new stretch of the living. James called it standing the universe.
I think of my grandmother in her garden, in the months and years after she buried a daughter, with eight others still living and a son, with their endless need amid innumerable dangers, somehow finding it in herself to care that the beetles not get to the leaves of her rose bushes, and how she would keep watch even in the morning when the sky was still blue-black, over them from the porch where she held her ground, even at the beginning of everything relentlessly over again.