Before the Window Shuts

Last week during Thanksgiving break, we experienced one especially temperate day. Now, a day in the mid-50's is a special gift during late November in Pennsylvania, so instead of doing what I had planned on doing (indoor work), I did something quite different (outdoor work).

Hours later, no papers were graded, but I admired those aesthetically-pleasing lines in my grass from my final end-of-season lawn-mowing, piles of cleared brush, and the Christmas garland draped on our front railing. The next day temperatures dropped, and since then, we've alternated from basic cold to "wintery mixes," which is the meteorological euphemism for "basic cold + varying degrees of wetness and slipperiness."

If I could kiss my own forehead, I would. I'm so pleased that I completed these outdoor tasks during the window of time when I could.

There's something to be said for seizing the opportunity during its lifetime. I teach about this concept -- a term called kairos -- in one of my rhetoric classes, in fact. In simplest form, kairos is a way of looking at time -- not chronologically, but rather in terms of opportunity. Kairos reflects an opportune time, an advantageous time, a critical time when acting or speaking can make a difference.

Sometimes it's easier to understand kairos by looking at its absence rather than its fulfillment. We've all had moments when we can't think of what to say, only to come up with the perfect words moments later as we're walking away from the situation. But by then we're too late. The words are no longer timely, no longer appropriate. The window of opportunity has shut. We've missed kairos.

But last week, I didn't. I had one day, and I made it count. 

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