Rather than fume, I bloom

By

These words appear under the old clock at school: "Improve the Flying Moments."

I strive to do so!

Each day has moments that can be transformed from wasted time to time well-used. An example: the time spent waiting for people who are late.

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"Punctuality is the courtesy of kings." This was a favorite saying of Mother's. In the spirit of her admonition, I try to be punctual. When I am late, I feel acute distress. Few people share the same concern.

In New York City, we have numerous excuses for being late. Subway delays, traffic jams, blackouts, water-main breaks, malfunctioning elevators. A snowfall, however slight, immobilizes the city for days. On occasion, I use these excuses myself. But even when transportation systems run smoothly and no disaster is in sight, some people are always late.

Late arrivals to my office don't bother me. I continue working at my desk until they come. But for those who keep me waiting at their offices, or at other locations, I can fume, or use the time in a productive way. I prefer the latter.

I dip into the reading material I carry with me for this purpose. At present, it is a collection of poems by Pushkin, considered Russia's greatest poet. This year is the bicentennial of Pushkin's birth. Since my time for pleasure reading is limited, given a busy workday and other activities, what better pursuit to undertake while waiting? Waiting in a lawyer's office for a meeting to start, I read Pushkin's "Autumn," written in 1833. Here, he writes of the joy of poetic inspiration:

The pen calls for my hand, the page demands the pen;

Poetry then pours forth in lines of every hue. Thus may a galleon stand, becalmed and sleeping, when

Suddenly comes the call!

At which the scrambling crew

warms up and down to spread The swelling canvas wide. The giant sallies forth, cleaving the surging tide...

Where are we bound? Nothing that occurs at my meeting comes close to being as stirring!

I am trying to extend these brief periods to other times of the day, by reading on buses and subways, or when soaring to the top of office skyscrapers in elevators. Or reading at the gym between basketball games. Or reading on a park bench, if the weather is not too cold and blustery, on the way to work.

At these times, to borrow from Boswell, my mind enjoys "ease and elbowroom."

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