Each Christmas Grandpa would give me a calendar with pictures painted by foot-and-mouth artists: disabled individuals who had lost the use of their hands, but were able to paint lovely scenes by holding the paintbrush either between their toes or their teeth. Each month also featured an inspirational quotation from somebody-or-other. Here is the only one I remember: "Be intent on the perfection of the present day."
For years this was my mantra, and then for a while I forgot about it, but now I've brought it back for my final semester here at DePauw.
"Be intent on the perfection of the present day."
It's more than just a reminder to focus on the present rather than regretting the past or dreading the future. It's a call to make that present as beautiful in simple, easy ways as one can.
I need to read papers submitted for an award I'm judging for best undergraduate children's literature essay, but I can read them by the Prindle fireplace.
I need to get some exercise mid-day, but I can get it by walking the invigorating rim trail at the quarry, alert to the austere charms of a wintry landscape.
I need to eat lunch: maybe I should treat myself to a $3.99 tuna melt sandwich at Treasures on the Square, which then became the Downtown Deli, and has now been rechristened the Downtown Cafe - but through all the changes the tuna melt has remained the same, so soft and warm and comforting.
Tonight, instead of reading in my bed, perhaps I'll read on the couch in Julia's beautiful living room, with her soft and warm and comforting crimson throw tucked over my legs (I'm hearing a theme begin to emerge. . ..)
I have a lot of work to do, and I have my fair share of sorrows that are stressing me right now. But I can still fill my day with warmth and comfort. I can still be intent on its perfection.