My problem is that I wake up in the morning and look at the stoppages in my upcoming day – those deadlines and times which determine when your privacy begins and ends again, those times of the day which require you to do something with somebody else. Visits are that way. Doctor’s appointments are that way. Picking up your child from school is that way. For many years I have contrived to create more and more spaces of uninterrupted “me time” for myself, time uninterrupted by any obligation to anyone. It’s somewhat like the Bill Maher joke about “that kind” of party, where it’s Friday night and you don’t have to be anywhere until next Tuesday. Though it’s not the partying I crave so much as that stretch of time, opening up, unblocked by stoppages of any kind. Summer brings this on.
I remember a funny little movie I once saw, some experimental short of some kind. In this movie a man would get into an elevator and press the down key. As he went down to ground floor he used the time in the elevator for himself, performing little acts of rebellion, at first doing little things like maybe taking off his shoes one day and putting them back on before getting to ground floor. The next day he did shoes and socks, getting more and more efficient. Then shoes, socks, and tie, and back again, then trousers, then shirt, etc .. all frenetically speeded up actions in faster motion, then a final brush down and wipe of the comb before he strode manfully out of the elevator, on his way to work. He may have drunk tea at one point … I have entered ghost memory now.
If anybody knows of this movie, or how to search for this movie, I would love to know. We’re going back about 35-40 years. I always thought of the movie as a deep metaphor for how we create pockets of time for ourselves, inside the crush of our everyday lives and duties. I thought that the first time I saw it, perhaps long before I was able to put into words what the movie meant to me.
I also remember a New Yorker cartoon (or was it Paris Match?) of two little cartoon character men, inside two cages. Actually one cage contained the smaller one, and inside the smaller one was a hapless little man, being taunted by the other man because he was not locked in the little cage, but was in fact still in a cage. Constraints.
But getting back to the “stoppages” in my day… I have in the past felt guilty at times for being such an introvert, which in my book simply means “quite happy to be alone.” I was cheered to hear on NPR that Burt’s Bee’s founder, Burt, had a saying… “Any day that nobody’s visiting and I don’t have to go anywhere, that’s a good day.”
Time. Feel it. It is ample. Summer is ample.