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Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Much Time Do I Have?

“How do you find the time to keep up a blog?” one friend inquires. Another asks, “Where do you find time to make jelly? To draw? To read so many books?” I answer, seriously, that I make the time by not doing housework, and that’s pretty true most of the time. Of course, with that kind of management plan—if I can call it such--when David and I have company coming, we both rush around in a frenzy, trying to make up for “lost time,” i.e., time we’ve “lost” by living in our creative moments as much as possible rather than attending to the daily maintenance tasks that would make our panicky bursts of housework unnecessary.

Other people live differently. Some find time for creativity by keeping themselves organized on a daily basis and keeping their lives orderly hour by hour. Better? Different. There is more than one way to live creatively. Is our way more stressful? Would we make life easier for ourselves if we were different? Well, the thing is, we’re not different kinds of people. We are who we are.

When I was in graduate school, my fellow students were shocked to learn that I typically went to bed at 8 or 9 p.m. and slept soundly while they were burning the midnight oil and grinding on into the early hours of the new (still dark) day. They, however, slept until noon! I started the semester by setting my alarm for 6 a.m., and as time went by, and I was tired earlier in the evening and went to bed sooner, I found myself waking and getting up and at my books at 5 o’clock, then 4, then 3 a.m. My fellow students and I were working the same number of hours—just different hours. Up at five o’clock this dark fall morning, I’ve got a load of laundry going while working on this new blog post. The quiet time before sunrise when the rest of the world (even Sarah) is still asleep feels delicious, as well as productive. And no, I don't set an alarm clock. Only did that when I was teaching.

I don’t know anyone on earth who has more or less than 24 hours a day to live, do you? Some of us have to make a living within the 24-hour timeframe, and “taking care of business” means fewer unstructured hours, but the richest person on earth still has only 24 a day and can’t buy more. And how many days does anyone have? No one ever knows.
...But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near...

- Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”
Another friend, whenever I see her, always apologizes for not reading my blog more often. I wish she would stop, because this is one of the many things I like about blogging: unlike telephone calls or e-mail or texting (I don’t do that last and had to restrain my typing fingers, the conservative linguistic little rascals: they wanted to put scare quotes around the word!), blogging is completely noninvasive. It doesn’t make demands. It’s just “out there,” to be visited if and when anyone cares to visit. You are not asked to hit a “like” button. There is no obligation at all.

On the other hand, as the Meg Ryan character said of her bookstore in the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” this blog is “personal,” a representation not only of my bookstore but also (because my bookstore is way more than a job) my life—my concerns, opinions, values, and how I choose to spend my time. It’s no secret that I make time for reading, and since I have a bookstore, now in its 20th year, my love and work regularly come together. Enough of my friends also love books that I hope they’re interested enough to drop in now and then to read about books I’ve found worthwhile. (And yes, my stories, too.) But whether you’re a regular follower or just dropped in today for the first time, whether you know my physical bookstore in Northport or live in a faraway country on the other side of the globe, thank you for visiting and reading! These mysterious, invisible encounters warm my heart.
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” 
– Film: “Back to the Future”
The recommended book this week is My Grandfather’s Blessings. To learn a little bit more, follow this link. To pick up the book, page through it, and talk to me about it, stop by 106 Waukazoo Street.


P. J. Grath said...

The strange formatting, the font size jumping UP and then back down? Don't ask me. Haven't a clue.

Dawn said...

But it's interesting! I too forgo housework for other more fun things. I think it makes my husband nuts...but I figure what doesn't bother me doesn't need to get cleaned up till it DOES bother me. And if it bothers him, well, he knows where the vacuum is. And we too scramble when we have company!

Kathy said...

I like being neat, but deep-down cleaning, well, that's another thing. I enjoyed reading this post very much. Thinking about blogging as non-invasive, just putting it out there. It's been challenging too, at times, because I want dear friends and family to read--to be present to my life. Some do read, but others don't. Have been learning to deeper respect their rhythms and appreciate what we do have.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, I too am all for equal opportunity in housework. Kathy, I understand and share your feelings but, like you, search for acceptance.

Gerry said...

I am past the scrambling stage to the refusing to tell people where I live stage. I need some people to take care of. Dogs are insufficient motivation - and in the case of the Cowboy, a bad influence, too. But am I going to clean up tonight? I am not. I am going to go read the last story in the Burger Shack Cycle. Back later.