Eunoia is the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εὔνοια, meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking”. Cicero translates eunoia with the Latin word benevolentia.
A ginger tea gets less and less warm in my hand as I stare out at the sky, drinking intermittently, relaxing alone on my balcony on a weekday evening. It’s a moment that I scarcely thought I’d experience again anytime soon. Too much time spent at work, two full-time jobs, has imbibed in me an almost pervasive sense of obligation, responsibility, diligence, vague depression. I awoke this morning panicked, worried that I was late, wondering if I had enough time to take a quick shower, if I have become that person lacking balance in life between work and pleasure. I do what I can to save myself from the horror of stasis and routine – yoga, reading, writing, creating, learning, music, love, family. If only I could immerse myself in those things all the time. We have lost a human culture to capitalism.
Then I remembered, no, today is my day off, and tomorrow, too. I can internally celebrate the news that a couple of Canadian literary journals have accepted my short stories for print publication. I can indulge in the creativity I crave, and finish the novel that I’ve been living in for the past week, on too-brief train or bus rides. I can relax and breathe deeply and lounge outside for hours, stargazing and watching the world move in moonlight. I can imagine.
We have forgotten the beauty of night, locking ourselves in our homes during those crucial hours, missing all of its morbid, beautiful, frightful obscurities. Cicero declared the stars to be gods born out of the aether that possessed sensation and intelligence, and on clear nights like this, I am compelled to believe him. I used to sit outside on my balcony as a child, a teenager, in university, a candle burning beside me, book in hand, stars above, the houses across the street enshrouded in darkness. I would vow to not sleep, to stay outside for as long as possible until I was found, meditating without realizing it. I do this less and less now, but tonight I feel that sense of peaceful déjà vu, reliving a moment I loved. Eunoia.
Unlike the sun, the moon does not reveal, it transforms, and the houses begin to look like faces, garages turned up at the corners in a wicked smile, and then they become mirrors, the windows my own droopy eyes. The moments from our past that shape and refine our future seem to crop up at unassuming interludes. There is a time when you might think that you have lost a part of yourself, misplaced or forgotten in the drone of everyday life, the changed responsibilities and goals. But it seems to work paradoxically, in that the things we’ve lost are the very things that never leave us. I have to sleep soon, but I’m cherishing this moment first, for a little while longer.
A thought for Earth Day (which is every day): the Circadian timer in each human being is aware that we’re on a 24-hr planet, and we’re unconsciously, innately able to measure time. The environmental cues that reset the rhythms each day are called “zeitgebers”, German for “time-givers”; the clock resets itself daily to the earth’s rotation. Therefore, the earth is literally built into our cells.
Listen to this podcast, “Ideas” with Paul Kennedy on CBC Radio 1. Discussing the heart of the beat, and what it is about rhythm, patterns, and synchronization that fascinates us. Why humans unconsciously tend toward falling in step, and how this is reflected in nature. SO INTERESTING.