In her 1989 collection of essays entitled The Writing Life, Annie Dillard has a wonderful meditation on the life well lived.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”
Dillard’s essay contrasts different daily schedules and the “existential tension between presence and productivity.” She then adds these words to prod us to think of how we spend our days — and lives:
“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.”
Here’s to having a good week lived in a way that produces a well-lived life.
More to come…
Writer’s Block (photo credit: Center for Documentary Studies)