Posts tagged ‘Stephen Hume’

October 4, 2013

When the moment calls you, listen

Ever wonder what it means to live in the present? Here’s a great example from Stephen Hume’s essay “A Walk with the Rainy Sisters,” published in his anthology of the same name:

The wind rose suddenly the other night, nudging me awake. It rustled through the forest canopy of maple and willow outside my window and snuffled around the eaves like some enormous, restless animal.

I slipped out of bed and into a pair of jeans, shrugged into my old Cowichan sweater with the snowflake pattern, stepped outside the world we parcel out in hours, minutes and seconds and went for a walk in the dishevelled vastness of time embedded in every starry night at the edge of the continent.

The wind had swept the sky clear. . . . Above the road, a river of stars, the Milky Way, the embracing arms of the galaxy . . . . The whole vista of the winter heavens spread around me.

Awoken on a windy night that seemed to whisper his name, Hume gave in to the mystery of that call. He didn’t roll over and go back to sleep. Instead, he grasped the moment and went outside for a walk, alone, in the middle of a dark, chilly night. As a result, he was dazzled by a clear, glittering sky and filled with such a strong sense of peaceful connectedness that the memory of it continues to move him to this day.

Being present doesn’t have to involve big moments. All it requires is recognizing — and acting on — the urges that pull you at the very moment they pull. They’re there for a reason, those urges. Listen, and your life will be rich.

September 10, 2013

Make mud pies with the people you love while you still can

Have you told your loved ones that you care lately? Have you hugged your mother, your brother, your father, your partner, your kids? We sometimes forget that the time we have with the loved ones in our lives is a precious gift, a limited-time arrangement only, and that the days, hours, minutes and seconds could elapse suddenly, much sooner than we think.

Writer Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” really hits this idea at heart. In the essay, Hume describes how he nearly lost his three-year-old daughter to a drowning incident on the beach near their home in coastal British Columbia. She was playing by the water; he looked away for a moment to talk to a friend. Had he not turned back around when he did — and seen his daughter’s tiny hand extend up from a swirl in the ocean — he would have lost her. Later that night, as the intensity of the experience sank in, Hume remembered how only a few days earlier he had gotten angry with his daughter because she had swamped her gumboots in a puddle and stuffed “mud pies” in her jacket pocket.

Writes Hume:

We spend so much of our lives on cruise control, sweeping along in the comfortable bubble of our assumptions. . . .¬†We assume we’ll see our friends again, that wives and husbands and kids will come home as they always do. And so we indulge ourselves in the petty tyrannies of parenthood and marriage, the nagging and squabbling over trivia, the evaded visits, the family bickering and the occasional grumpiness that comes of relationships we take for granted. . . .

We can’t — and shouldn’t — live our lives in constant fear of the worst that can happen. But we should switch off the cruise control and live each day as though the ones we most love will not be with us for another.

So hug a loved one today. Call a family member and say that you care. Or kneel in the yard and make mud pies with your daughter. You never know, says Hume, when the bridge between you and that person will be replaced by an abyss.

(Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” appears in his 2010 anthology A Walk with the Rainy Sisters: In Praise of British Columbia’s Places.)