Afternoon Delight

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There is a unique tedium about being given a task but not being yet allowed to begin working at it. The mind, still full of expectations, is forced to stew while occupying itself with peripheral activities, chores which are vaguely useful, and can be rationalized as even being essential for the eventual real job, but which generally encourage the heart and mind to drift into different realms, foreign lands, impossible places. The mind wanders and flows, out of the building into the heavens or about the earth, pondering people, specific and general, and events. Simple things catch one’s eye as the mind searches for its own satisfaction in the midst of a less than engaging hour.

Begun, but not yet beginning. Arrived, but not quite there. All the expectations that had built up still residing as questions remain unanswered and hopes unsatisfied. It is those moments in life in which we are still in the waiting room, rummaging about for a magazine even vaguely interesting. Some spend only hours in these kinds of moments, some spend years. The very holy and the very unholy have been known to spend entire lives pondering existence in such a way.

She had only been at this for a little over a week. Having finished the initial training and introduction to her new job she found herself perched high above the urban suburb as she began her second week. There was a calling, she knew, a strong urging into the direction she was going, a persistent push which did not seem to let her stray too far away. But it was imprecise yet, not relating specifics or details, and letting her wander through the wilderness on her own, though certainly not alone. It is the searching that develops faith. It is the yearning which is itself a prayer to the Divine, the grasping after a life lived as intended, which points to a person of true faith and character, whose heart and soul are willing to do anything, as long as that anything involves remaining in the place of peace which only something higher than us can provide. These places are oftentimes peculiar.

Seven stories up she was able to look out past her many papers, tests, materials, and others assorted important documents out onto the hustle and bustle of a city alive. Activity, purpose, ambition and goals exhibited themselves in the intricate interactions of humanity. Each person was about some vital task, at least vital in their mind. In the big picture these tasks were most likely infinitely trivial, but of course that is why it is very disconcerting to live life looking at the big picture. Keeping one’s focus on the seemingly vital tasks usually is more presently comforting to the soul. Somehow, she was able to do both, adaptable to most any situation, keeping her mind focused on the here and now, whilst never forgetting the higher realms of true human existence.

In this moment, however, the tedium became a little too strong. Her delightful charm was lost on the papers in front of her, her wonderful wit unimpressive to the books of procedure and protocol. As engaging as she was, the weariness of lifeless interaction provoked her mind to other things, her eyes to search out points of interest.

Shuffling the papers once more, she laid down her pen, taking just another small break, breaks which were becoming increasingly more frequent as the afternoon sun began to drop in the sky. She stopped reading, rubbed her temples, leaned back in her chair. As she did so her dazzling blue eyes, sharp and keen even after a day of focus on typed print, rested upon a most unusual sight.

Seven stories high a person has a view from quite a different perspective on life and those who live it. Hidden behind the glass, high and out of reach, one can see things which are at times just plain interesting, and at times, odd. Birds seen flying from above, the unexplainable decisions made at an intersection, the identifiable nonverbal cues given off by coworkers walking along the sidewalk, can be moments of distraction especially for those eager for such. But from this building, from the seven stories height, she could see even more interesting sights than these. There was a pool in front of her, a hotel pool, the pool of the Hilton.

The sight of a pool sometimes will cause a person to want to drop what they are doing and seek the comfort and joy which large pools always bring. She was one who delighted in the outdoors, who loved the feel of the sun upon her skin, but in this moment that pool was not where she wanted to be. For there was a man there. A man who likely in his daily life was an important man, a powerful man, a man who made decisions and expected them to be followed. Now, though, this man was wearing nothing but a blue Speedo. No matter one’s position in life, a Speedo tends to reduce a person to the status of a buffoon. Certainly, there are exceptions to this rule, but rarely are these exceptions found at the pool of the Pasadena Hilton on a Tuesday afternoon.

Struck by the sight of this man so far away, yet so clearly engaged in his Speedo wearing activity, she lost complete interest in the discussions of tracking progress and discovery of student placement which were directly before her. As she watched, the man walked along the side of the pool and dove in, making only a slight splash. Swimming around for a while, obviously cooling off from the triple digit temperature, he made several casual laps. After a little bit he emerged, exposing again his blue Speedo for all the world, and those sitting seven stories above, to see.

Her attention was momentarily returned to the task at hand. Though not for long. It was now too late in the day for her to be able to focus on unimaginative training for any prolonged period of time. She checked her email, found a surprising bit of delight there from some of her more interesting, engaging and dashing friends. Her mind wandered for a while, with unknown thoughts, though she would periodically look back down at her required assignments.

But then, there he was again. Blue Speedo man, walking along the side of the pool, obviously now well baked by the summer California sun. Diving in once more, from about the same place, he once again began to swim actively around the pool. This time however he betrayed a past containing some level of swimming prowess, using a butterfly stroke as he made his laps around. She is somewhat impressed, though still more amused. The sight indeed brings forth one of her radiant smiles, and a slight chuckle. As he exited the pool, and began to stretch, the chuckle turned into a laugh.

The man, likely so important in his daily, usual life is in this moment viewed, from seven stories high, as a fool amusing the queen. Though unknowing, he has become a clown, providing a laugh, a story, a rare moment in the midst of uncaptivating pursuits. Even in the tedium of an unbegun task one can find odd moments of delight and humor. As the questions, many and daunting, loomed before her she felt her heart lifted in the peculiarity of the moment. Nothing was answered, but instead she found, for a brief moment, an oasis of enjoyment from the antics of an unwitting jester in the midst of a dry day. Not a profound moment, by any means, but simply a curious moment of odd delight, the kind of moment which makes life always interesting, if one is discerning enough to see.

A month later she quit this job, finding discernment pushing her to distraction and then onward towards purpose. I’m not sure if she’s happier now for it. I do know she is certainly more full. That is something.

One Response to “Afternoon Delight”

  1. marie Says:

    I enjoy your “fiction”. It reminds me of real life.
    It deals with issues of the heart and spirit.
    Write, Patrick. Write write write!