They say that during the Great Depression this nation stopped. Of course not all activity ceased; babies were born, weddings were held, kids went to school, people grew old and died. But that greatest of gifts that all Americans share, that boundless optimism, that belief in unlimited opportunity that has cast its light upon this world to all who wish for a better life, reached a pause, unknown and unimagined.
But the pursuit of happiness should not be treated as a trivial folly. Even when the capital needed to follow such dreams as were self-evident was not available, the ideal was not diminished. Like a rock in swift water the rough edges were made smooth, the pearl made brighter.
This is the value of time. Joseph Campbell alone, a cabin in the woods, reading, reading, reading. When you do not have that do-re-mi to do what you want to do most, that essential part that defines who you are and your relationship to this place and this time, you use the time that you do have for the things that are most important.
There are stories of traders on Wall Street selling apples for a dime apiece during that Great Depression. However improbable it may seem they were following their bliss. The traders were trading. Resiliency taught, compromise listened.
Here in these Four Corners the clouds of our current Great Recession still linger. Businesses have cut staff, dropped inventory, lessened hours. Fewer people are working. But in this decline there is a rising. For in all of that time there is an energy released, a slow ambition realized.
With the value of time, things that were not can now be; the pile of wood, once turned with labor from tree to fence post, then left sitting as an ant home, is pulled from decay and erected to its rightful intent. Projects that were planned, materials that were purchased, ideas that would have been actuated but for the investment of time can now become complete.
Time is more than a task. It is the ability to live here and now and to know the life that you are living. It is a Christmas play enjoyed, cows living in the neighborhood (fewer in the winter), people you know that are passing. It is the power to think and accomplish and reflect. It is the wisdom to appreciate all that you have received. And if time is a measure of redemption, that space to make wrongs right, then from this time redeem.
Already light stays longer in the evening sky; the sun is brighter early. Momentum will build, time becomes compressed. Old friends will pass and go, but unnoticed. It is a fast world out there. Soon this pause will end. And that is the value of time.
Jude Schuenemeyer is co-owner of Let It Grow Nursery and Garden Cafe in Cortez, Colo.