Sitting and not thinking -- quietly watching the snow on the lawn, doing nothing including nothing itself. A wee curl of smoke from the incense stick twists and twirls and takes shape - a face almost human.

Oh no!!! Not him!!!! It's the Prince of Pragmatism! The Duke of Digression!! The Anti-Master is taking human form in my incense smoke!

"Sooo whatcha doin' there, Pilgrim?," The Duke asks with a wry and disapproving grin. "Looks pretty useless to me."

"Just sitting here, sir, watchin it not snow anymore," says I.

"Yep," says The Duke, "I thought ya looked pretty useless. Yer squandering a valuable moment here."

"Squandering?" I asked. "There are no great deeds to be done. No little chores whining for attention. No urgent thoughts or imperative ideas clamoring for attention or action -- so I'm just sittin' here, cowboy."

"Heard it before," says the Duke, striking a match at the hip of his jeans and lighting a sweet cheroot.

"Yere wasting this moment and you'll never get it back. That's pretty hefty business there, son."

"Wasted? What is being wasted," I asked.

"What's being wasted?" rasps The Duke. "Potential, son!!! This here moment a-wasting is the bearing-point between two great weights, if nothing else. It's the capstone at center where past and present meet. This moment is the culmination of all that is past -- the aggregate of every action, thought and intention of the years. All that was and has been is contained in this moment. Every day since birth, every heartbreak and every triumph, every grand accomplishment and every failed dream occurred in order to create this moment. Besides, don't you have laundry as needs doin?"

This thing-of-smoke taken human form is half-standing, half leaning on the window sill, now. Blocking my unobstructed view of the snow-laced trees and the mountain beyond.

"Ain't that much laundry," I answered.

"Ya could be makin' money, son!" snorts the Duke. "This an expensive moment to get to. It is the instant bearing the weight of the entirety of yer past, boy."

"Sheeeeeit" scoffs The Duke. "This moment is the beginning of everything that's to come. It is the first bit of clay to mold the first brick with which to build all that will be. It's the last step further from death before the next step draws us closer."

"So, I'm gonna move slow, build a small wall and don't sweat the dying part," I answer defensively.

'Well, cowboy, ya gotta understand -- this is a critical moment to be spent wisely. It is the instant bearing the weight of the entirety of the future" says The Duke, stubbing out his stogie in the incense burner.

"Like I said, son, it's the the capstone at center of the arch," says The Duke in his most patronizing drawl. "It's bearing all that ya are on the one side and all that you'll ever be on the other. It is the stress point that supports those forces against gravity and wind. That's a hell of a lotta work, son. Hell of a lotta work!"

"Yep, Duke," I says. "Sounds like pretty heavy business. I surely appreciate your kind concern. Ya helped me figure out what I need to do. Much obliged."

"So, son," he beams like a proud pappy as just got through to a recalcitrant young 'un, "whatcha gonna do?

"Well, sir, here's the deal," I answer, "After finishing great toil, we rest to regain strength. Before starting a momentous task, we rest to gather strength. It is obvious what I've gotta do to buttress this burdened capstone."

"I done asked ya once, son," snorts The Duke. "Whatcha fixin' to do?"

"Well, sir,' I says in my best southern manners, "thanks to your kind visit, the course is clear and the need is defined. Y'all pardon me now while I get back to the business that must be done! The important task of wasting this moment! Why don't you go stare at a campfire for a while?"

The Duke discorporates. The last droop of ash falls from the incense stick. A cardinal hops across the snow.