Been thinking a lot about the long view recently, both in work and in life. Everything’s awful and urgent and yet the past six months have felt so momentously slow that it’s creating a huge amount of internal dissonance: make-it-happen-now has to sleep in the same bed as when-this-is-all-over. And that’s presuming it will ever be over, of course.
I’m placing high value on every little moment that breaks out of the immediate, every long view and every. That’s not because it distracts me from the everyday sense of turmoil, but in fact because it puts the everyday into a new focus. The long haul is always there. Your task is to stay concentrated on each part of the pathway to get to wherever we’re going.
One of those moments came this week when I read about John Cage’s As Slow As Possible. It’s an organ composition he wrote in 1987, five years before he died. Performances typically last around an hour, but the play comes from extending the limit—hours or more. In fact, there is one particular ongoing performance that is slated to last 639 years and it changed chord this week for the first time since 2013.
The piece started playing on September 5, 2001. That was a week before the twin towers fell, a generation ago—a moment that has shaped life for many of us, one way or another, but is now a piece of history the same way as the Second World War was to my parents. When this particular performance of ASAP ends, it will be the year 2640.