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Small wonders: Thoughts on taking a seasonal break

November 04, 2011

Foggy mornings. Searing days. Cool evenings.

Thus marks the seasonal change in our SoCal bubble, where summer and autumn wage battle, neither letting us know who will win until winter’s had her say.

The seasons don't change so much as argue for two months; one day cold and rainy, the next blistering hot. Pull out the extra blankets, flannel shirts and wool sweaters, then nature's whim peels the clouds away and smothers us with her stifling heat, making a mockery of our plans.

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Though we strain against it, our souls are tethered to this primordial pulse. Never steady, always wrestling. Wrestling with chores and responsibilities, demands and desires, in a world with no pause button.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I do here in this column, the responsibility that comes with this gift to write and be read, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’ve been wondering whether I am living up to the task, giving this honor everything it deserves. Frankly, I don’t feel I am.

I don’t feel my contribution to our human dialogue has been up to snuff for a little while (using the phrase “up to snuff” is a perfect example). There are probably many reasons for this mood — the confluence of work and so many other responsibilities. But, more than anything else, I think it has to do with the elevated goals we set for ourselves and how harshly we criticize ourselves when we fail to meet them.

Over the three years this newspaper has graciously, and curiously, published my opinions and observations, I’ve written a bit about politics, about religion, pop culture, local and global issues. But mostly I’ve written about myself — a remarkably unremarkable person swimming laps in the Petri dish of life in the hopes you see yourself and your own struggles, which is why I’m writing about my thoughts on change now.

We all struggle with the daily checklist: put in a solid, productive day’s work for a (hopefully) reasonable day's pay; be present — physically and emotionally — for our loved ones; uncover and pursue our passions as much as possible; take time to exercise, recharge and renew. Not to mention laundry, shopping, cooking, toenail-clipping and such countless tasks that otherwise mar the canvas of a day.

I know no one who succeeds at all of these.

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