Brain Food #601

To waste one's life

Thoughts of the day

Following from yesterday’s thoughts on procrastination, today’s Brain Food focuses on doing nothing against being constantly busy, and how pausing, even for a few moments, can lead to revelations.

Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

Focusing on what is around us can also help refocus on what truly matters, leading to a moment of epiphany in which one admits to oneself what is truly important. In Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, poet James Wright has one such moment. He describes his lazy surroundings, the sights and sounds that surround him as he builds up towards the jarring, final line.

Through wasting time, Wright comes to the profound realisation that he had, in fact, been wasting his life, though we do not know on what. Being busy is not the same as being on the right path.

Thankfully, where the poem ends, it gives the feeling that a new one is about to start.

Have a good Friday and a restful weekend.


Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
by James Wright

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,   
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.   
Down the ravine behind the empty house,   
The cowbells follow one another   
Into the distances of the afternoon.   
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,   
The droppings of last year’s horses   
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.   
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.