Brain Food #632

The here and now, according to Annie Dillard

Thoughts of the day

The problem of the present is that we sacrifice it too often to wonder whether our future will be a happy one, forgetting that it is whatever it is we are doing in every moment that will build the foundations of that future.

Of course, as Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Whatever it is we are doing in each and every passing moment is life itself. These are widely known and republished words, but what follows them may be less commonly known.

“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.”

The thought that every moment is precious and irretrievable might be an overwhelming one, but Dillard does not refute this. She simply advises having a schedule, one which can protect us from the ‘wreck of time’. A schedule means that we have devoted some thinking to how we choose to spend our days, instead of letting them drift by.

Perhaps it is worth taking this a step further, and treat having a schedule as a form of having a direction, not a stringent checklist that we cannot digress from. That to be present with our commitments should not overtake being present with ourselves. That it is ok to get lost every once in a while, or even to change course.


Annie Dillard posing in front of a desk in the middle of what seems to be a forest, standing somewhere between the absorbing, future-nudging bubble of productivity, and the stillness of nature.


A question: What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Hit reply and let me know.