Archive for March 12th, 2010

All perspiration should be followed by well-deserved incubation.  We need to stop; take a deep breath, a genuine pause in the action.  We need to seek our own counsel and be authentically alone.

Our lives today are, however, a 24-hour productivity circus. Our technology makes it possible to squeeze every last ounce of possible energy and time out of the day for things that have either short-term urgency or that are part of the reason we are paid. If we are very fortunate and make good choices, we love what we do. Even so, the real pause is not a luxury, though it increasingly may feel like that.

At the end of an intense two days in leading meetings while traveling abroad, I came to rest at 4 PM yesterday. It was good to see people once again who are new friends and work with them on meaningful things. In fact, the long work and the effort expended in facilitating the session made the alone time , as it always does, both necessary and more deeply delicious.

So, off I went to dine in the hotel’s restaurant once again, as I have so many times over the years, countless times in fact, and I found myself looking forward to it. Too often there is a touch of embarrassment and awkwardness in asking for a “table for one” and it even sounds somewhat sad. In reality, though, it was a celebration. I chose a good table right by the window so that I could occasionally look out. Not much to see, just a store across the street, passersby, a man rushing to say goodbye to someone leaving in a car, the early darkness of the evening, and the yellow glow of street lamps in a lovely British city with deep history.

Time alone can be romantic: Fine dining mixed with casual banter with the waiter and the maître-de. No one else was in the restaurant at this early hour. I had it all to myself. I took my time. I reflected on my blessings, on the many countries and cities my work has made part of my life. I thought of those other cities and similar nights spent dining alone in memorable places all over the world.

Curiously, what stand out for me are the smallish things and not the tourist spots and the national treasures. I recall the purple light bathing the bridge across the Thames that I enjoyed as I dined alone at the Sir Christopher Wren in Windsor, the Crypt, an unlikely place to eat underneath St. Martin’s Church in London, the restaurant at the Intercontinental in Warsaw, breakfast dining at the Four Seasons in Shanghai, a small old world pub in Prague, and the Charles Bridge, typing a short story on the patio outside my room at the Park Hotel in Vitznau, Switzerland, the site and scent of honeysuckle along the front wall of the Red Lion Inn in Henley and many others.

Without question, life is punctuated by big events, but the real spice  comes in the form of the small accent marks, the parenthetical and prepositional phrases, and the quotes: discovered settings combining mood and presence in a special moment of solitude. They are forever etched in memory . Yes, there are moments of loneliness when I think of how much I’d love to share it with those I love, but this also gives rise to an agenda to do so. Experiencing it all in solitude and then to share it as I am doing here now adds sweetness to an already deeply fulfilling experience.

I sing a song in praise of quiet dining with one whose company I’ve learned over much time to better appreciate ………, myself.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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