The Christians are holding their Easter today: a red sun is climbing the wall. When I went out for a walk, this morning, the stars were still bright, and Vega was overhead, burning blue. Just above the trees, to the South, a lopsided moon was limping home.
I turned aside, went to the lichen-splashed rock, and rested my cheek against it. A bird or two were already singing in the dark, singing to the stars. I wished a happy Easter to my friends who celebrate it, groping, as I usually do on holidays, for the happiness I know so many of my friends find in them. Not for the happiness, you understand; even I am not so silly as that. But for an understanding of the happiness. I cannot even imagine a world so changed that holidays would make me happy.
Yet I am a happy man, as I reckon things. Ridiculously fortunate, and aware of my good fortune. I take pleasure in so many other things, which most people seem to pass by as worthless. The birdsong and the stars, for example. Touching people with attention. Ordinary food. Most people seem to be getting so little pleasure out of ordinary life: they're always anxious to escape it, to go do something special. I don't want to do anything special. What I want is a calm and stillness, where the seeds of light might germinate.
Before a holiday, people will ask, “Are you doing something?” – as if I wasn't, ordinarily, doing something. But it would be ill-mannered to say, “yes, I am going out to look at the stars in the morning, and making coffee.” Instead I say, “No, nothing special, nothing planned. How about you?”
Nothing seems stranger to me – nothing alienates me more – than the combination of religious holy days with social feast days. If Easter were my holiday, my response would be to go off alone, go to the mountains, watch the sunrise, pray to the risen son. It would not be to hold a noisy party. I can't even begin to understand how these things knit together in most people's consciousness. But clearly I'm the odd man out. It must make sense to them, or they wouldn't do it.