Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Catching The Spirit

The spirit of the season is definitely catching. One unmistakably notices it in the suddenly-changed behavior of people around us, on top of the pervasive festive decorations around town, which at times may be too garish and/or gaudy for one’s tastes as to be repressively unnoticeable.

But how exactly does one catch it, as most of us are unarguably inclined toward it? I’d thought I’d investigate first hand.

So rising up late yesterday morning with slivers of sunshine cutting through the room in what promised to be a battle royale between the cold nippy morning air registering in the 50’s (F) indoors, against the gathering phalanx of warm sunshine emitted by Mr. Sol, I flopped snugly on the den’s comfy chair facing the PC’s empty stare. Turned the switch on while ambidextrously fingering the CD-player’s remote to bring on some Christmas aural delights from a favored list of singers. Cursorily scanned through holiday greetings from my registered list of list groups and some tagged blogs, aptly serenaded by the soft muffled sounds coming from the CD-player. Then furtively wheeled my eyes through the den, to try and spot any perceptible changes that may have been brought on by imbibing some holiday cheers. No such change. Still saw the same shelf-cabinets with their captive books held stiffly in place. So to the question whether this was the way to catch the holiday spirit, I’d have to answer in the negative.

So dismissively moved on to the other typical chores for the day, which may had have taken on a different spin given that this was the day before Christmas.

The wife announced her desire to be done early with her banking needs before the mad rush during the rest of the holidays. Good, I said thinking this little trip might provide the occasion to see if I could catch the spirit of the season.

Gingerly pushing ourselves outdoors to use the car parked in the driveway, we found that we had comfortably bundled up to handle the low temperature; otherwise it would have been easy to catch the sniffles or a cold. Though the possibility of catching the spirit was also evident out there because the cold nippy atmosphere conjured images of white Christmas, without the white stuff that usually hampered driving trips.

Anyway, our bank is situated on a strip mall anchored by a widely-patronized grocery chain. We observed passersby coming from their parked cars bounced about with quickened steps, buoyed obviously by the slowly warming glow of the creeping sun. The grocery chain had temporarily installed in front a rather huge charcoal-fired barbeque pit loaded with big chunks of beef in differing stages of cooking. The engulfing plume of scented smoke surely must have stirred some cravings from those within reach. Though the parking lot was slowly filling up and abuzz with activity, I wondered whether this was where I could catch the spirit.

But uninspired by the absence of any palpable stirring in my soul, I decided to step aside and walked toward one of the tree-lined streets that bounded the mall. I could only console myself with looking at the bare-branch trees lining the sidewalks and median island. Clearly the flora showing signs of a transitional stage – having shedded, folded up, and hibernated for the winter. Clearly signs of some kind of death, or at least, animated suspension. Clearly too, too gloomy a sight to entice an uplifting change in spirit.

Having done her little banking chores, we quickly got back home. And I quickly dressed down to my biking gear deciding to avail of the warmth of the sun which by now had stretched out to it full splendor during its winter hiatus. So round and round the park I pedaled with half a mind on my biking. The other half focused on the familiar sounds emanating from the trusty iPod’s earbuds. And before I noticed it I had already reached the routine’s limit of 45 minutes of mindless circling around the park. A few minutes more and no lingering memories of the routine stayed on, and sadly, still no change in spirit for me.

After depositing the bike in the shed and getting indoors, the wife announced without skipping a beat her next item in the daily agenda. She wanted to attend the four o’clock Mass to be done with her duty for the holy day of Christmas.

Good, I muttered mentally, another chance to catch the spirit of the season, and in a holy place, too. And in a faith that initiated the celebration of the event which is the reason for the season.

So like clockwork we were on our way to church a few minutes past 3:30 pm. One pass-around and we had found an acceptable parking spot. As usual, the wife had sprung out the vehicle the second the car had stopped. But I seemed glued to my seat, apparently from a host of reasons among which may have been inertia, inability to extricate myself from the comfy confines of the car, etc. But more significantly I found that this particular exercise was problematic. Because two days ago we had been here under similar conditions and for similar purposes. And there was no change of spirit then. So what would make today different? And finally with the wife grudgingly pointing herself toward the church steps, I stayed on to stew and grapple with my predicament.

Gee, it might be getting too late for me to catch the spirit. What should I do?

In what seemed an eternity, finally resolved to do a last recourse effort to deal with it. Took pen and paper and started feverishly to commit to paper all the relevant issues confounding the problem, with the very firm commitment to stay in solitude until this thing was resolved. Not a twitch of a nerve or a muscle, until I had the spirit of the season firmly ensconced in my recalcitrant system.

Another eternity later and Voila! I got it! Eureka!

It was with me all this time. Like the glasses we thought we misplaced but actually are unnoticeably perched above our heads, I missed noticing the many subtle changes that have somehow become part and parcel of daily and everyday living.

Recall the popular piece about the footprints in the sand. What we instinctively believe is missing in us is in actuality already there, for us to discover and make grow.

So, remember in our desperate need to catch the spirit, detach a bit and tarry, it may already be with us.