Saturday, September 22, 2018

How We Spend Our Days


(painting: Bonnie Joy Bardos)


"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~ Annie Dillard

It's the first day of fall--this sun-filled Saturday afternoon, a blue jay's rusty-hinge screech high over blue-shaded woods. River Dog snores nearby; it's been a busy morning of walking to town, hauling paintings for the upcoming Art Trek Open Studio weekend next Saturday and Sunday. Somehow it gets a little harder to clean, prepare, haul each year, but it usually gets done--albeit slowly. Lately, I've been pondering what makes a life a good one. Annie Dillard, one of my favorite authors, "In The Writing Life" says, "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."

"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."

(Paintings: "When Dinosaurs Roamed" and "Spirit Guides": Bonnie Joy Bardos)

As one gets older, time flies quicker. You ask yourself if you've had a good life, one that matters. You start sorting and sifting through the grains of thought, of things: a paring of self, soul, possessions. The burden gets lighter, perhaps. In that, there is a sense of joy of giving away, of needing less, and embracing the life of the spirit. In evolving over a lifetime, the owning of things becomes less and less important.

Oh, it would be lovely to have a next-to-new car again, something that doesn't blow white smoke at stop signs, that goes smoothly on the road of life. It would be indeed. But the truth is what really matters is a dog that's snoring peacefully on the first day of fall, the sun sparkling through kitchen windows, the praying mantis turning her green face toward mine, a friend. There are paintings to be done, a ripe tomato on the sill, and a bit of chocolate gelato in the freezer. The morning coffee was fresh and hot earlier, and a Wildflour bakery danish in a paper bag for breakfast, carried home from my walk to town. Is this not the good life, this little vignette of time captured in these thoughts?

To paint, to create, to write and think, to watch the mantis, the rose petals drift, an acorn upon the ground. To love those dog ears, and be delighted by a new shade of pink. To hold the cup of life warming in the hand one more day, this. This. How we spend our lives......

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