In five more minutes, I leave this hotel
this half-way house
for runners and failures
where anxiety, gentle yet disturbing
as a poem by Susan Musgrave
Every day has its turning points, its critical times that signal the end, or the beginning, or some other milestone that seems so important in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable day. There are always the checkpoints in the morning - far too early to be awake, too late to be starting the shower, late for the bus. And at the other end, the day is bookmarked with ten, eleven, twelve o'clock - bedtime's well past, and those morning worries are creeping up again, not so far off now. But during the day, well, there are always those other critical times, the ones that partition the day into manageable pieces, or if you like, fragment it into innings that are too short, or too rushed, or too crowded one into the other to let you really get things rolling.
10:00 AM - it's time to stop and think - what have I done so far? By ten-thirty, things had better be well underway, because when 11:00 rolls around, the morning is almost done, frittered away most likely and there's no hope of getting anything serious started and completed before lunch.
2:00 is the analogous time in the afternoon... either too late to be finishing lunch, far too late to be starting it, or, most likely, just about the time that I realize I'd better get my skates on if I want to complete a good chunk of work before the afternoon is over.
4:00 PM is a time when I begin to feel that gloomy late-afternoon feeling: the day is almost done, it's too late to get anything meaningful started and completed, in wintertime it's getting dark. I have to think about leaving on time to catch the bus. It's a depressing time of day, when the glorious, burnt-umber autumnal glow of three-something gives way to the gloom and wintry despair of 5:00.
And so home, that ever-present little shade of guilt at not having accomplished quite as much as I might have hoped. If only the day could be made to flow, streaming round those clockwork chicanes and streaking away to its end, all sail up the mast, afterburners on, sixth gear at the redline. Just think what could be achieved.