That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Mr. Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window, and looked out upon the world beneath. Goswell Street was at his feet, Goswell Street was on his right hand–as far as the eye could reach, Goswell Street extended on his left; and the opposite side of Goswell Street was over the way. ’Such,’ thought Mr. Pickwick, ‘are the narrow views of those philosophers who, content with examining the things that lie before them, look not to the truths which are hidden beyond. As well might I be content to gaze on Goswell Street for ever, without one effort to penetrate to the hidden countries which on every side surround it.’ And having given vent to this beautiful reflection, Mr. Pickwick proceeded to put himself into his clothes, and his clothes into his portmanteau. Great men are seldom over scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire; the operation of shaving, dressing, and coffee-imbibing was soon performed; and, in another hour, Mr. Pickwick, with his portmanteau in his hand, his telescope in his greatcoat pocket, and his note-book in his waistcoat, ready for the reception of any discoveries worthy of being noted down, had arrived at the coach-stand inSt. Martin’s-le-Grand. ’Cab!’ said Mr. Pickwick. — Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
GK Chesterton, a Dickens enthusiast himself, said the words that are true of all men: "The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning" (Orthodoxy). Rolling is a better verb to use. And sleepwalking à la Lady Macbeth until I have imbibed coffee is accurate. Mr Pickwick's "bursting forth like another sun" is an anomaly on the human race. We do not "burst forth" as a general rule, yet this tremendous passage often creeps into my head at various times throughout my day. For life itself is a not a dull drudgery, fit only to "get through" until the weekend. A mere waking up every morning is worthy of worship, and if we were not fallen creatures (granting sleep), we would certainly "burst forth" each day. The first minutes of our day would be spent in lofty meditation "look[ing]... to truths which are hidden beyond." Though never over scrupulous, the drab phrase of "getting dressed" would change into "putting ourselves into our clothes." The emphasis here is the often forgotten wonder that we not only have bodies but that we put them into clothes, clothes that we place in portmanteaus: The exceptional body is everyday put into something so easily trivialized, a thing fitted in a portmanteau. "Bursting forth", we would grab a notebook, ready to record anything so exceptional worth noting, and the wonder in which we lived out days would produce a plethora of interesting "discoveries worth being noted down."
I read this passage a little over a week ago, before I officially began my two years at graduate school. The idea of "bursting forth" every morning is symbolic of new beginnings. We often begin new stages in life (e.g. a new school year) by "bursting forth" but then fall into the robot monotony of schedules. Let us, however, seek to "burst forth" each and every day as if life itself is such a spectacular gift, we cannot help but be excited that our Father has given it to us. A witty quote by Chesterton is pinned on my desk staring at me throughout my day: "There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people." May we remember this truth as we "burst forth" each day, "ruminating on the strange mutability of human affairs."
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"A Misty Spring Morning"
Oil on Canvas
Francis Danby (1793-1861)