A guiding hand in season

The instinctive response is to accuse the seasons of irresponsibility. Yet there are people who continue to work with spring bursting through the window proclaiming its presence loudly, persistently, insistently, whereas gentle autumn seeps across fields and over hills, beckoning with muted breath. There is an admirable dedication that stays indoors despite the sharp clarity of winter shining on finely etched trees, that desn't abandon everything and rush out to grasp those tremulous summer days.

Last week, three working mornings accomplished half a paragraph, and the blame lies entirely with the season-- spring in this instance. The pervasive activity in the garden was so overwhelming, my feeble resistance drooped. I took the dog out and wondered that the countryside wasn't bustling with fellow shirkers. The reason is simple of course. Most people are employed by someone else and that's a good enough restraint, as I well know. I like to think that, in a broad sense, work for other people though not employed to do this. To become "self-employed," as the saying goes, after many years of being an employee does something to the framework of the day. The corners and joints are further loosened by adding the terms "part-time" and "freelance." The whole thing could fall apart at a puff of discouragement, a whimper of uncertainty, so the structure has to be built again in a different way.

It has to be adaptable, this new framework. It needs to bend around other activities that are involved in looking after a home and family. But while being flexible and adaptable it needs to be steadied in a definite foundation that is rocklike: a basis of purpose and motive. Otherwise I would be all over the place and achieve nothing in any direction. all this I have learnt since leaving full-time employment. But what to do about the seasonal surges of the countryside is a puzzle. They undermine the firmest intention. Ut is just fortunate the irresistible days are mingled with grey, cold, wet ones. If these coincide with a working morning, so much the better.

On the other hand, this accusation of irresponsibility may be unfair. Perhaps once again I am missing a point that this different way of living has uncovered time and time again: the value of looking, seeing, waiting, watching, listening with an uncluttered intensity that reveals the hidden sprouting of a different idea, a fresh way of thinking and doing. I know how essential this is to any achievement, however modest. Is this what is being emphasised when I am impelled to gather up great armfuls of countryside revelling in the bounty of a particular season? There is something rather essential about abandoning for a while the routine of work, and becoming a spectator. Actually, this requires a kind of discipline too. To accept that the contemplation of a bee, heavy with pollen laden legs, supping nectar, of early swifts still able to sweep the air after their immense journey of massed hues of distant trees coming into leaf, to realise that this can be an important occupation, has taken some effort. A misguided conscience can be restrictive especially if it is formed by surface values. Ultimately each one finds and knows his own special impetus for endeavour, and this is something to be cherished.

So I accept that, for me, the attraction of the season is part of a necessary preparation. Instead of guilt-ridden murmurings at being drawn away from the desk, I should be thankful for their constancy, rejoice in their variety.

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