“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Are You Living the Life You Dreamed?

“To affect the quality of the day is the highest of the arts.”

-- Henry David Thoreau

How many of us are really living the life we dreamed when we were six years old, twelve, maybe twenty-one?

Aren’t we running too fast, over-scheduling ourselves, feeling that we have no time? 

What’s next?

 Nothing in society teaches us to live in the now—everything is, “What’s next?”

When we enter grade school, we feel the pressure to do well so we can get into college. When we get to college we are asked, “What’s next? What is our major? What job will we have?

We look for the ideal mate to make our lives fulfilled and joyful. We wait for children. We wait for them to sleep through the night. We have an eye on their education, their college.

Remember when you were a kid and you laid on the grass and felt the cool dampness of it?

You were lying on a living pallet, and as you lie there with the sunshine a blanket of warm on your skin, you looked into the sky and watched a whiff of white gas gather itself into a cloud.

Can’t you smell the grass, feel the sun?

Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Recently I reread a book I had read about 20 years ago and loved the author all over again. It was Dorothy Gilman's book, A New Kind of Country.

She was a lady alone, her boys were in college, and for $10,500 she bought a house and ten acres in Nova Scotia. She went there to find a new kind of country, one in which she could “Front only the essentials.”

During a Christmas visit back to New York, at a dinner party, the host turns to her and says, “It’s high time you told us about your move to Nova Scotia. Which I certainly envy you doing.”

“Yes,” his wife says, “I’m so curious. Tell us, for instance, what you do every day.”

Dorothy was about t reply when the friend who accompanied her to the party, said, “Oh, I can tell you that. She gets up at dawn, chops wood, milks the cows, builds fires, does a little writing, eats fish, and goes to bed at sunset. Now tell me, she continues. “what you’ve heard about the Johnsons’ divorce.”

I, too, feel I must be working all day, to read a book during the day is somehow frivolous, so I squeeze in a little reading before I fall asleep at night.

Yet, you who write know the importance of reading. It is not frivolous, nor a waste of time, but essential to your craft. 

Read, love, laugh and be happy,
 oh yes, and write.