It was a rare day in which there were no pressing demands and I found myself wondering what to write. Now in wondering what to write, there was a strange sense of duty and an obligation to not waste the afternoon thus gifted for literary pursuits with anything else.
But I was also in a state of limbo – not wanting to write about any books I was currently reading, wanting to write that children’s book that has been gnawing in the back of my mind, and also itching to get that short story taken out of the attic for a proper airing and rewriting.
I did none of these.
My mind harked back to Intimations – a slim volume of essays. I have been wanting to read Zadie Smith for sometime now and thought essays a good place to begin. I do not understand what the fuss is about – some essays are good, others merely perfunctory. But the book was written and published as a sort of meditation during the early months of Covid-19. They are no works of philosophy, but one essay in which she touches upon the nature of time resonated.
It is a common refrain – if I spent half the time thinking about writing, actually writing, I could’ve had an impressive repertoire. But the thoughts of writing are far more entertaining. Sometimes, by the time the words make it to the physical form, some of that magic has evaporated. Other times, the art of writing brings forth something far different from what I anticipated and that is rewarding in itself. Nevertheless – less thinking more doing would be nice in the realm of writing at least.
Time To do : Essay by Zadie Smith in the book Intimations
I do feel comforted to discover I’m not the only person on this earth who has no idea what life is for, nor what is to be done with all this time aside from filling it.
Zadie Smith in the Essay, Time To Do, Book: Intimations
On a walk a few weeks ago, a close friend & I were talking about what is the making and breaking of us. As youth, young adults and as adults. The crux of it boiled down to what we wish to do with our time when there are no demands on it. That kind of time only increases as we age. I see many retired and older people at somewhat of a loose end. After the seemingly long years of bustling careers, raising children, paying mortgages: When all the business of living is done with, and the busyness of living is no longer there to fill our times, then what?
Those of us who are not there yet, have time now, to think of what brings us wholesome happiness, so that we may be better prepared.
I was musing thus on a walk with the husband one morning in which I begged for some quiet. My throat was not okay, and the river by our home was full and flowing. The husband, is not the quiet contemplative kind. Quite the opposite actually. So, I should’ve known that the quiet would last all of 100 meters. He glanced at me, and started laughing loudly.
“What?” I said.
“I was thinking – okay, I have seen the river, looked for birds, the clouds look good. What else? And I turn and look at you, and see you have a small smile playing on your lips! So, now I am thinking – did she see deer somewhere? Is that what the smile is about? I see no deer, and you still look lost and dreamy!”
“Well!” I croaked, joining him in his laughter this time. “I was thinking of this post actually. Tying an essay by Zadie Smith and Time.”
Oh the poor man! I started and we landed up chatting all the way back much to our pleasure.
I suppose mankind, over the centuries, has arranged life such that there is structure, work and livelihoods all to be taken care of, so that unstructured time is relatively hard to come by. Yet, I remember reading somewhere that one of the best things we can gift ourselves with is the ability to be comfortable with ourselves as there are periods (inevitably) where one is alone. The Covid years suddenly bought this crashing on the world population at once, but it is something philosophers have been musing about for eons.
So, I suppose finding something interesting to do, and finding ourselves rejuvenated in the thoughts of it, or the pursuit of it, are gifts in and of itself.
Here 🥂 is to interests, hobbies and finding the Peace of Pursuit.