This morning the fog turned the forest air milky blue. Trees disappeared into the mist. I could feel it on my face. It wasn’t raining; the droplets floated in the air. The only raindrops come off drooping leaves.
We went on a community dog walk this morning then. Then, as usual, I headed into the day with no agenda. It’s a bit of a challenge to fill up the days when I’m disinclined to venture outside. (Yes, I know: In summer I endured having too much to do!)
I used to fill time in Fall and Winter undertaking time-consuming self-directed projects that involved writing and making things—costumes, mostly. People ask, “Why not do another one?” The answer is complicated.
I am reading The Imperfectionists.In it, a reporter goes to interview a woman who wrote an influential book in her youth but who now is dying. He pretends to be writing a profile of her but he’s the obituary writer. When he arrives, she explodes with dialogue:
“…Meanwhile, we panic about death, which we cannot ever experience. Yet it is this illogical fear that motivates our lives. We gore each other and mutilate ourselves for victory and fame, as if these might swindle mortality and extend us somehow Then, as death bears down, we agonize over how little we have achieved. My own life, for example, has been so inadequately realized. I will scarcely be recorded anywhere. Except of course in your eccentric newspaper. I won’t question why you’ve chosen me—thank God someone has! It extends the lease on my illusions.
“I say that ambition is absurd, and yet I remain in its thrall. It’s like being a slave all your life, and then learning one day that you never had a master, and returning to work all the same. Can you imagine a force in the universe greater than this? Not in my universe. You know, even from the earliest childhood it dominated me. I longed for achievements, to be influential—that, in particular. To sway people. This has been my religion: the belief that I deserve attention, that they are wrong not to listen, that those who dispute me are fools. Yet no matter what I achieve, the world lives on, impertinent, indifferent— know all this, but I can’t get it through my head…. Here is a fact: nothing in all civilization has been as ludicrous as ambition. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshipped by man.”
I love the sentence: “It extends the lease on my illusions.”
I also love what she says about ambition.
Underpinning all my projects was a surety that they would be realized one way or another. I published my books myself or produced the plays myself. The excerpt from The Imperfectionists resonates because I have no ambition any longer—except to get through the day as pleasantly as possible. Professional ambition is folly to me now; projects are an expensive way to pass time.
I have a meeting with the arts council about fundraising on Thursday. Some work for me may emerge from the meeting that gives me something practical and creative to do. (The last event had me build a cat palace.)
The voice of the character in The Imperfectionists knows her days are numbered. I live conscious of that. That’s why I want to only do what brings me present pleasure.
Darrell says many more trees will come down next door. He thinks the initial clearing was just for the septic field. I was glad to hear his opinion as I’m hoping for even more light for my yard.
I’m becoming very good at passing my days indoors. I read, dog walk, fire stoke, eat, web surf and once in a while watch TV. Mostly, I read. I’m fabulous at being lazy.
I’m going to join the library. I have never been a library user; I always bought my books. But I walk Sunday mornings with the head librarian and hope to tap her for great suggestions.