Every Minute Of Every Day You Are Answerable To Someone

Three places I have been this week, each powerfully expansive somewhere deep within my soul, in my body, connected with past and present, the now and the what-if.

First: A Sunset.

I traveled to North Carolina for two purposes: First, to deliver my mother into the arms of her sister, who she hadn’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic; years during which my father died, and my mom joined her sister in the unwelcome journey of widowhood. We walked in my aunt’s door and my mother moved from the center of my sight to the periphery, where she is sister and friend, knit to a woman whose history and DNA are perhaps more tightly wound to her than my own.

I stepped aside, literally and figuratively. Two women embraced, and tears fell, and words were murmured, and there was grief and mourning personified, strengthened, as they clutched one another’s arms.

It quickly became comfortable, sacred space, and after a short rest, I resumed my journey. I felt a definitive call to the long stretch of sand where for years I have walked out my questions and breathed in the relief of summer vacation, so I dedicated time for a few days of retreat at Emerald Isle. The beach in February is appealing, but for reasons that have very little to do with surf and sun. I went with intentions to deliberately disconnect from the unrelenting cacophony of information that makes up my “normal” life; music, reading, podcasts, reading, music, social media, reading, music… As I considered what a day apart would truly feel like, I was dismayed to discover just how much the Input button was deployed during my waking hours. The freedom of turning it ALL off – even music and reading – was like being born again. Seriously.

More on that later.

I arrived at my accommodations and discovered a lovely, old-fashioned pink bicycle. Checking the time, I bundled up – coat, hat, scarf, gloves – and started pedaling, racing the descending sun. Crosing the highway, I glided down the bike path towards The Point – the intersection of the Intercoastal Waterway and the ocean. On an island so familiar to me, after 30 years of annual visits, this was a place I’d never explored – but it called to me on this late afternoon.

The bike path ended and I followed my nose towards the water’s edge.

Tall wooden steps came into view, sand spilling over the treads. I spotted the bike rack and parked, nestling the wheel between the wooden slats.

I climbed and an incredible vista came into view – dunes and sand for a quarter mile, dovetailing into an expanse of shore hugged by the push and pull of water moving in two directions. I’d arrived with five minutes to spare before official sundown, so I purposefully strode across the sand towards the sea.

It was brilliant; a wide stretch of coast with the straightest horizon line I could recall seeing. The sun slipped below the horizon and was gone. And I felt something powerful shift inside of me; a primal understanding that the day was done. It was forceful, an imperative; This day is done, and I felt a release of sorts, the venting of pressure that usually surrounds me until I slip into sleep.

When do I ever admit that the day is, in fact, done?

That is a rare thing. To watch the sun disappear marked the moment for me. Later, I wrote these words to my husband:

…I can’t tell you the last time I intentionally stopped what I was doing to watch the sun disappear into the horizon. Now I’ve done it two days in a row, and it’s been really thought-provoking as I consider the rhythm of my life and this sense that there’s always something undone. The sun literally does its job and then DISAPPEARS, knowing full well it will come back around tomorrow and do it again. I seem to fight the end of every day in despair; I could learn something from the sun..

One of the books I’m reading is How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, a remarkable exploration of what it means to mark time and live in this age of “limitless connectivity.” My journal pages are filled with quotes and passages that resonate and inform me in this moment. These words reverberated:

Every minute of every day you are answerable to someone.

This is the truth of life lived in relationship, in community – with work, with spouses and family and friends. It can be overwhelming; yet I’m not sure anyone could rightly advocate for total withdrawal from all accountability. But a thought came to me at 5:36pm, when the sun slipped below the surface and night fell, and I sensed, deep in my soul, that it was time to stop. What if I allowed my life to answer to the rhythm of day and night, as it was designed from the beginning, as it forever will be?

What if I answered to the sun?

The day was done.

Tomorrow will come.


Next: A Kitchen Table.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s