Most Wednesdays I set aside as “writing days.” On Wednesday I start out with lofty ambitions and goals for my personal writing, plans for what I hope to accomplish, ideas that have been dutifully noted in notebooks and journals and tattered bits of paper.
And mostly on Wednesdays, I fail.
At least, I consider it a failure. Because most of my Wednesdays turn out like today. I woke up and looked at the clock, knowing the minute my eyes popped open that they wouldn’t be closing again to sleep until at least 16 hours later. I carefully (and somewhat painfully) extricated myself from the cocoon of sleeping dogs surrounding me, found my slippers in the dark, and crept down the stairs. I made some coffee, emptied the dishwasher, and took my cup back upstairs to my office where I finished reading one book, started another, wrote my morning pages, and then started on a list of ideas for writing later in the day.
This is the point where the day begins to derail. My husband’s alarm goes off, and I get up to make more coffee. I begin to feel hungry, and decide to exercise before my hunger becomes unbearable. I get dressed, walk for 30 minutes, eat blueberry yogurt and granola, look at the email and scroll through Facebook, tend to first one dog and then the other, toast a bagel for Jim. I come back to my computer, open the blog page, type in the title.
But the sun is shining so beautifully today. It’s quite comfortable to be outside, for the first time in many, many days. My little dogs would love a good walk, I think.
So I walk again.
I meet a neighbor, who tells me news of a lost dog in the neighborhood this morning, one she spent two hours trying to corral, and another hour locating the owner. Now there is a morning gone awry, I think, surreptitiously looking at my watch.
Magic is particularly “nosy” this morning, stopping every three steps it seems to root around in the still brown grass, soaking up the scents of every animal who has passed by since we walked this route yesterday. Finally, we make it home. I open the front door and the clock on my hall table reads 11:15. I’ve been up for seven hours, and haven’t written a word of what I intended, which included this weekly blog post.
Already on the road to failure, I think.
But am I really?
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard wrote these words, and most times when I read them, they rise before me like a yellow caution sign. “Take heed!” they warn. “Be careful how you spend your days, your hours, your fleeting minutes.”
My intention lately has been to live with intention, to take notice of the ways my minutes accumulate, how I spend them like the precious currency they are. Perhaps by marking them, I can learn how to use them more wisely.
Then I consider, perhaps writing is not always about words on paper. Perhaps writing lives in the simple noticing, in the layers and levels of being that every day brings. After all, just by living life, we are storing up impressions, memories, all the things that are important to the writing itself.
Rather than hold myself to such a high standard of productivity, isn’t it wiser simply to allow things to be as they are? To be gentle with myself, because the world is rarely gentle with me?
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
Of course. Days rarely unfold with any predictability. Things don’t turn out as planned, and that’s alright.
I believe the best writing arises from that which is truly lived, truly loved, truly experienced.
The way we spend our days.