Perpetual Present

I’m presently under the influence of Annie Dillard’s  The Writing Life that I started reading last night. She is talking about writing as so much more than my exercise of a daily blog.  And perhaps what I’ve “learned,” or am coming to suspect, is that to write well I will have to give it much more than I presently think I have to offer.  Or am willing to give?

There is a realization trying to dawn on me that my shift of mode is not simply about vacation.  I love it when someone else writes it down, saying it better than I can think it.  From the blurb of the book When Breath Becomes Air by neurosurgeon and writer Paul Kalantithi:

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present?

It is that line “flattens out into a perpetual present” that speaks for me.  It describes what I have recently observed as turning off the striving switch.  I’m no longer on driven.

I used to pay to sit still on a yoga mat.  Now I can, of my own free will, sit and stare out the window watching the daylight play on foliage.  Now, I am learning it takes time to be.  It takes time to be thoughtful and kind.

So, while taking care of my mother has its challenges and sometimes demands a lot of me on top of my work life, I think maybe the perspective it gives my own life — seeing her begin dying — which is the surest evidence of my own mortality, has helped me take the ladder to the future down and store it in the garage.

So, it isn’t that I’m entering my dotage, but that I’m shifting how I want to live my life, the rest of it.  Writing and art.

Accepting one’s mortality before the symptoms are super severe can be a good thing.  This is my life.  Mine.  I don’t owe it to the Company Store.

6 responses to “Perpetual Present”

  1. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your thoughts. I have really enjoyed reading your slices this month. And I look forward to reading more of your stories!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Laura,
    I am so glad I found you on this last day of slicing. Your memo to yourself, is so thoughtful. I won’t be able to get the image of the two chairs out of my mind. One for you, one for your mom.
    …take the ladder to the future down and store it in the garage.
    Oh, I love that line.
    I feel like I am in a race, and there hasn’t been time lately where I am living in the moment.
    I look forward to reading more of your stories.


  3. What a beautiful final Slice for the month! You’ve articulated so much here about yourself as a mother, a teacher, a writer, a person. It’s given me food for thought, for sure. Thank you for sharing!


  4. Such a powerful post. But you have the gift of writing, and that will give you some solace.


  5. This is beautifully written. Very touching. I feel I know some deep part of you and your life.


  6. Oh, my goodness is this some piece of writing! I don’t even know where to begin…see her begin dying. That is a powerful realization and a difficult one to bare. Once it is out there, it is…I get that so very much. And then there is the entire paragraph that begins: I used to pay to sit on my yoga mat…it does take time and a lot of energy to just be. To contemplate in silence. To mediate is often exhausting. And you have the choice to do that or remain at the same level of busy-ness, but I am glad you are choosing to slow it down, the take and the pace, as you said. Brava! Brava! Thanks for letting me read into your life!


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