12 July 2012

Thursday, I think

She wondered what it meant when I said I was doing nothing. I answered that my days were relatively empty of directionfor the most part I did not have to be anywhere at any specific time and for no pressing reasonand what had to be done had become so routinized that it required some little effort in time but demanded very little energy. And that was all, alright with me. I had, as it were, no direction home; indeed, I had no direction at all. I was reading randomly and without question; I maintained interest without vision. The books and papers piled up and none called out pressingly to me. Occasionally I would foray out of the compound for dinner and drinks with friends, but mostly I remained content to stay within. I started screening the four seasons of Felicity (another show that flew under my radar) and peaceably spend some daylight hours in the cabin happily watching this drama (?) of manners (?) about students at the University of New York, very transparently NYU. I half-heartedly check the movie listings at the local theaters (little to see this summer), peruse the music venues (there’s always Beethoven) and even theater offerings (Neil Simon never my preference), and then I return to the computer screen and to Felicity Porter feeling content enough that I have ventured out at least in my imagination.  The book, Symphony #1 has been published, the school year was over, the children mostly gone, and the treatments regular and successful. I told her that I was tired and distractedor distractibleand that I didn’t want engagement.  
She asked if I was okay doing nothing, and I said I thought I might be so. I said I thought that what I was, in fact, doing was filling the cup until it flowed over and that when it did so I would engage in some activity represented by the overflow. I understood that at any time I could, if I so desired, force the issue: just start something and something else would inevitably follow. But, I told her, I preferred not to. I was on some kind of vacation. By eight o’clock in the morning my day lay wide open and wholly unstructured.
I have had to learn to give myself permission to enjoy this freedom, because that is, indeed, what this time represents. I was being unproductive but not unemployed; I had no direction home but was not without a home. I remain grounded by the details, but there was at this time no bigger picture. Moving through the world required no effortthere was no resistancebut I wasn’t going anywhere.
I think Thoreau lived much of his adult life in this manner, but perhaps the journals were the defining mechanism that gave his life direction:  in those journals he explored the life he was living. He was not living to write about it, but writing about it changed his life. I think learning to live deliberately required a certain freedomwhat we might today called aimlessnessbut in fact there was nothing aimless about Thoreau’s directionlessness. In searching for his life he was creating it; creating his life was searching for it. He said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” I am building castles.
It is a luxury to be in this state. And neurotic to be displeased in it.


Blogger Instructional Design Projects by Euchay said...

I totally agree with you. Your current state of living is rather luxurious and one would have to be sick to complain or be displeased in such a post. Enjoy it while it lasts indeed!

12 July, 2012 14:53  

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