Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Solstice today. Shortest day of the year. It all lengthens from here.

The faces across the bar are harried and tired. They carry Macy's shopping bags and sport overeager red sweaters. I feel secretly tender every time I see a 30-something ex-frat-boy roll up in his Christmas sweater, earnest, committed to the season, in spite of his hair-gelled, dry-martini'd attempts at bravado.

Holidays near, there seems so little need for "stress," and yet, this psychological state of our own creation tightens lips and furrows brows when the short days lend themselves to what we often call "not enough time." One of my favorite writers, David Loy, touches on this chosen timelessness in his sharp essay, "Consuming Time." Loy and co-author Linda Goodhew describe time commodified and time objectified, writing that
Because our life and death, like spring and summer, are not in time, they are timeless. .... Instead, there is "just this!" - tada in Japanese. Shakyamuni Buddha is sometimes called the tathagata, literally "the one who just comes/just goes." Or we may say that there is birth-and-death in every moment, with the arising and passing away of each thought and act. Then there is nothing lacking in the present that needs to be fulfilled in the future, and spring is not an anticipation of summer. Each moment, each event, is whole and compete in itself.
Remember that when you're sitting on the tarmac for three hours waiting for the plane to de-ice. Remember that when you're antsy at having to sit through another long Christmas Eve service featuring 4-year-old shepherds acting out the nativity. Remember that when you're wishing your blowhard Uncle Frank would shut the hell up about health care.

Be there, live and die in that moment, realize the impermanence of it all, and look up to see the sun hanging longer in the sky as we cycle once more toward lengthening days. Again, it begins.


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