Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Why Count When You Can Dream?

Make every moment count. How I hate that exhortation. Like watching sand in an hour glass fall grain by grain. Each grain falls and then it’s too late, the next is upon it. Another dead moment, uncounted. How many moments in a day? Each one is a thumbtack pinning me to immobility.

What does it mean? Should I give my undivided attention to each activity? I’m no Brother Lawrence. I don’t want my thoughts imprisoned in a broom. My attention wants to soar and meander and thread its way in and out of today. If it isn’t attention, then what is it? I am writing this rather than doing something else, something I should be doing. But this thought I am riding may never come again. And yet my attention is unfocused, my eyes do not settle. They are wandering a landscape that doesn’t exist. How futile. How lax. How very un-American.

What should I be doing? Work – well, yes, the spoiler of all joy, what we do to make a living, eight hours of bondage to the One Thing. Reading scripture? Praying? Improving my mind? Plotting out each hour of my day, subdividing it into little parcels of land to be tilled? Living out the dreary Seven Habits of Highly Effective People? Because every moment is so bloody important I have to grab it, shake it, subdue it, suck the marrow out of it, discard it and move to the next. Well, I don’t want to be highly effective, like a disinfectant, like a marketing campaign.

Ambition was never my strong suit. I have never been able to settle on goals. The fear of amounting to nothing is always at war with the desire to embrace nothing, to be invisible and unconscious. The experts say if you fail to plan you plan to fail, so perhaps I will have a magnificent failure. Or not so magnificent, a small inconsequential failure. By everything holy in the world I have failed in every way. By commerce, by artistry, by faith, by consistency, by fame, by fortune, by function. I have never broken a moment and forced it to do my bidding. They are roaming free in the meadow, munching grass.

My thoughts set sail in a gentle breeze. They are lying on deck, purring in the sun. Let the day flow like a river, and perhaps I will have the courage to jump in.


  1. You and me both, Alice.
    I should be writing lesson plans for next week, running into the staffroom to get my worksheets copied before the rush.
    and what am I doing? Sitting in my nightie thinking about a story about meeting Pan in my backgarden...
    I know what gives me more satisfaction, though, so while I am in the hospital waiting room later this morning, it's the story about Pan I'll be writing and not dreary lesson plans that no one cares about, least of all me.

  2. nice! love that "i have never broken a moment and forced it to do my bidding." and the last paragraph is great - not a "purple passage" as orwell writes mockingly.

  3. "The fear of amounting to nothing is always at war with the desire to embrace nothing, to be invisible and unconscious."

    Yes, I know that feeling too.

  4. Thank you for your comments everyone. I have been such a bad worker this week. I've wanted to simply dream and write, even if I wrote nothing particular.

  5. I pretty much got sick and tired of everyone else's plans for me by the time I was 12 years old.
    If the accumulation of 'stuff' is the hallmark of success,then I'll confess to being a miserable failure.
    If approaching life like it's an adventure to be savored,then I have been truly blessed.
    ..I like my version best.

  6. Sling, I agree. I'm not so adventurous, I fear, but you keep going. And keep writing about it.