Saturday, 13 September 2014

If I Had

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
~ from "To His Coy Mistress"
Andrew Marvell 1621 -1678 

Have you ever heard the phrase "had I but world enough and time"? I have. Not sure where though but it was circling through my head this morning as gray light slipped through the huge windows of my new home and I snuggled deeper under freshly washed sheets...only to have a list of potential things to do start running a marathon on the oval track of my brain. 

There is always so much to do, to see, to hear, to taste, to touch. I walk into grocery stores here and it's a struggle to decide what to go with in terms of one, being diverse and healthy, and two, keeping to a budget, and three, allowing myself treats but also ensuring I am trying new things so I can experience as much as possible. The same goes for what I do on a daily basis. Yes, most of my days are living at school since I get there for 6:30 and often don't leave, exhausted, until 6. By the time I am home I might have planning or marking to do, I squeeze in a bit of lazy reading and then I drop into bed, lately, near midnight. Especially, if I get asked if I want to go out for dinner, or come by for tea or whatever the case, and then things get shifted back or around even more. In my idealistic mind I figured every weekend I should aim to travel to somewhere for the weekend, but honestly, as a new teacher and an introvert who needs alone time, with just a book, not even random cafe strangers, in order to recharge, that probably won't happen. 

 I'm still going to try but what I am currently coming to grips with is the notion that we don't have eternity and nor is the world and giant place. Not that I really have a desire to see every single corner of it. Just certain parts. What I am learning currently is that, when you choose to move to somewhere to live, to live, even if it is to a new country that you want to explore and learn about, you are living there. That means factoring all those mundane and dull things that come with being human. Like sleeping, eating, having a disgustingly oily face by the end of a ten-twelve hour day because of the more humid climate or just having a personality that as much as your logical brain cannot shut and wants to keep going and going, your emotional side just wants to curl up in a corner with a comfortable book you have read before and smells like home. Currently I have my nose in Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" again. 

I have so many people in my list of connections now. Just skyping them all takes many hours. Plus I've begun making friends here and that too of course takes time. Then, I still haven't stopped my writing dreams, I still have plans to go out in early morning hours to photograph Bury St Edmunds without many people about, I have an ever building list of places to visit, Cambridge and Sutton Hoo being the closest and most present in my mind at the moment since i could day-trip them both which leaves me time to actually prep for my teaching job. Whoever says teaching is the most slack job because of all the time off does not realise how much effort goes into the job outside of the work hours you are paid for. Especially when you are new at it, have no experience or resources to draw from and yet you are expected to take on the same work load as an experienced teacher who has five or more years of resources to pick from. 

But maybe, maybe, we need to do not what Andrew Marvell suggests, which is to take time to think about what we will fill our days with, but to just do things on spontaneity, to not judge our choices as good or bad. If we need a day to recharge. We need a day. The point is that we are making a choice and we need to wholeheartedly believe in that choice. 

The challenge is when you wish to do great things but your idea of great things measures up to the individuals who are buried in places like the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. It's at this point in the teeter totter of your mind I remember Andrew Marvell who I didn't know, let alone did I attribute him to this poem or the line this post is centred around until I looked it up out of mild curiousity about a year ago and I've heard the phrase "if I had world enough and time" (which is really not even very accurate) thrown about for much longer than that. 

It tells me that whatever I do, however I do it, this blog for example even, will go out into the world, it'll be some words among trillions, some thoughts among billions, one life among ten million years worth. So, really, then, what does it matter what I do, so long as I do something. 

After all. I am here aren't I? Here on Earth. Living. Breathing. Writing all this right now. 

Here's another saying for you. An idiom: "the devil's in the details." 

Berry details on a walk through a nature reserve in Bury St Edmunds.

I see that as meaning life is in the details. The good, the bad, the little, the big, the sideways bits that don't ever actually turn out how we envisioned. I encourage you to spend today looking at things with a magnifying glass (whether you wish it to be metaphorical or not is up to you) and you'll see your life in the things you spend time with. It is in the seconds you take to enjoy your toast in the morning. Just your toast. Not your toast with your newspaper or your phone or your prep for work or while you are running scattily toward your transit vehicle. Your life with be the sum of many parts. It is neither good nor bad nor sideways. It is life. It keeps going no matter how many times you sit down to think about which way you are going to walk into order to best pass the time which is delegated to day cycle of this planet. 

If had we world enough and time, I would suggest we kept our ears opened and did whatever we desired during every second that passed us by. It might be watching tv, reading a book, listening to music, walking, biking, sleeping, eating, visiting with friends or family, scrolling through websites or wandering through isles of clothes. 

Whatever it is. Enjoy the details of this life. You've just got one. 


  1. If we had world enough and time, I would be cuddled up in bed with you, dropping toast crumbs and reading your local newspaper, inhaling the community and the culture. But alas, I'm here on the other side of the world reading your blog post..... but feeling close to you none the less. Keep writing and sharing your insightful views. You need to turn all this into a BOOK!

  2. This is lovely, Alyssa! How are you doing? Are you in the UK now?

  3. Aww. Thank you. :) I've been in the UK since mid-August now but it feels like so much longer. Then again, life has been hectic between the glorious but crazy week in London and then moving up to Bury St Edmunds which is near my actual teaching post. So tough balancing work with just trying to enjoy and experience things. I am always amazed reading what you have managed to do thus far. (Again, it's enormously inspiring!) Though I have met a few other overseas teachers at the school so being around other uprooted individuals helps keep the stress of the job in perspective. Otherwise I just keep listening to Shane Koyczan's "Instructions for a Bad Day" on repeat.