Wide Enough Margins

I'm not in the kitchen lately, despite about 50 pounds of citrus that really, really need my attention.

I'm doing math instead.
'Pythagorean Theorum"
 by Michael Paukner
 Used by permission
This kind of math: where the sum of the area of the squares on the legs equals something considerably more complex and meaningful than the area of the square on the hypotenuse; it's less homework and more art.

Our foreseeable days--if we are lucky--will be camped in a special ICU waiting room, waiting to see whether my brother-in-law will live or die, whether this clear-blue-sky encounter with some something that has stopped his heart will be it and all there is.

We're in that room closest to the big automatic doors, out of the general population, quiet and private. Just in case.

It makes me remember what I've been meaning to write: this is why life needs wide margins.

The story goes that a contemporary of Descartes named Pierre de Fermat, the founder of modern number theory, once found a staggering solution to something or other to do with the Pythagorean theorum. It being the 17th century, he scribbled:


"Hanc marginis exiguitas non caperet."

[I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that] this margin is too narrow to contain."

What a waste: to have something worth writing down, but no room left over for the words. (It was another 300 years before anybody with both enough brains and paper managed.)  What in history might have been altered if only the VERY IMPORTANT WORDS of the book in which he was writing hadn't been jammed right up against the blooming edges of the page? Was it all sooo important that no room could be left for one possibility more? I doubt it.

Not in so many words, but that's what our last 36 hours have been about. One way or another, we're coming to terms with (or fighting against) this: 


There isn't enough margin in our lives.

Assumptions, tangled remembrances and strangleholds of bitterness, are all scribbled fine and tight, right up to the edge, and even the whitespace in between the lines is colored in with obligations, excuses, even lies. 

But let tragedy start dropping saltwater on the ink and the letters as they fade all seem to spell just this one word, endlessly repeated: regret.

Not able to go back and do better this time, I look forward, making mental notes and promises. 
I want to
  • remember there are variables--angles and numbers I do not know--before I think I've got someone all tallied up and figured out.
  • allow generous margins to see people,  make time to spend time with them, and reach beyond what I think I know into what is really there. 
  • leave more time in my schedule to do that good at every opportunity thing. "Some other time" must never apply to people. 
  • add some neutral ground around my feelings so that no matter what the nugget in the middle is, there's plenty of room for grace to grow it into something different, something more. 
  • reach beyond what I think is true and ask some tough questions as I'm led to (even if it makes everybody uncomfortable), because frankly, now I know there are worse things than the worm-in-hot-ashes interview, like the never-getting-to-know.
  • add whitespace around what I think I know about the people I think I know, about their value and their motives, about their pain. I want room to discover. I don't want to keep knowing only what I already think I know. 
  • leave the widest margins of all, bigger opportunities, for those I deeply love. There's no such thing as too many memories, too much time.
It's after midnight, and if we get tomorrow, it is to be a bellweather day, a day on which all the others we're told will turn, and though the need to think by touch on a keyboard was strong, so is knowing this:

There's no such thing as too many minutes spent cuddled up in the dark against my husband, 
thanking God for his warmth and beating heart.

Goodnight.

(Go hug somebody you can't imagine missing from your life.
Make the grapefruits and oranges wait.)


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