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Thoughtful Thursday: Joy Without Time Constraints

"Life is not just the passing of time. Life is the collection of experiences and their intensity." – Jim Rohn

We are approaching nine months in quarantine and depending on your point of view, the time has crawled at a snail’s pace or 270 days have raced by in jack rabbit fashion! When your focus is on what you have lost and what you are missing now, the future seems bleak and time will drag by with each day feeling like a burdensome eternity. If you have remained upbeat, consistent in your practices and exploring new and different opportunities, you wonder where the months have gone. Funny thing about time, it passes so slowly if you are aware of it and so quickly if you pay no attention.

And in the blink of an eye, it is time for the holidays! As we enter that “most magical time of the year,” holiday celebrations may look a bit different. No hustle and bustle in crowded stores, no galas or soirees and dancing till dawn, and no pictures with Santa. But what was once a four-week window prior to Christmas has stretched across several calendar months with some decorating in early November. Folks search for ways to brighten their days, engage and entertain their children and bring in a bit of the holiday spirit. A scented candle, baking cookies and twinkling lights will soften even the most cynical Grinch! Hauling out the holiday decorations brings reassurance that all is not lost. We find comfort in the familiar traditions: the Advent wreath that marks the four weeks leading to Christmas, hope and encouragement in the menorah that has graced the credenza for several generations and support and faith in Kwanzaa’s Kinaras.

The candle is a holiday symbol shared by many cultures, partaking in the rituals while casting light and encouragement. Continuing that tradition, today we string lights on our homes and trees inside and out and kindle fires defying the encroaching darkness and cold of the winter season. The magic of candle light and burning embers encourages us to ignore time and stretch this holiday season. After all, “Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind…” (Calvin Coolidge). With no office or school to return to and homebound is what is most safe, there is no reason to take down that tree with the new year. What memories can you create with a New Year tree, or how would you decorate for a winter wonderland celebration. Groundhog’s Day, St. Valentine’s Day - let’s keep the spirit alive even as the tree may need to be tossed! We can create really fond memories through positive experiences and good humor even in the bleakest of times.

Artists have always worked outside of time’s constraints. Their paintings straddle time giving us a glimpse of the past while creating something new. They are masters at capturing beauty in the ordinary, exceptionalism in the mundane and solitude in a crowd. They invite you to share their vision, while prompting your own memories and experiences such that you question whose life and story is pictured. Like Christmas, every painting is more than a specific time or place, it is a state of mind.

To stretch the limits of time and experience that holiday state of mind, please visit the gallery in Chestertown or online at

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