Catching days

You can’t rush the dawn.

Especially not after you’ve stayed up late watching the Cards pound the Reds and then Don Draper “comfort” a draft-dodger’s mom. I enjoyed both spectacles, but they kept me up after midnight and have disrupted my morning routine.

Routine is crucial to creative success. I was reminded of this by another of Maria Popova’s endless succession of instigating brainpickings. She cited some of my favorite Annie Dillard lines, from The Writing Life .

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. 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.

And then she recites Wallace Stevens’ splendid daily routine: walk an hour to & from work (each way), plus another hour at noon. I’d love that routine, if only my work were an hour’s walk (instead of drive) from home. I’d hate the insurance selling in between walks, but we must all make our compromises.

Popova has lots more on the daily routines and daily rituals of successfully creative people. I’m especially envious of Darwin’s.  (He of course worked from home and so did not have to commute, vehicularly or otherwise.)

Darwin rose, walked, worked, took a mid-morning break in the parlor with Mrs. Darwin (who would read aloud from something diverting, typically personal correspondence and something fictional), worked some more, walked some more, declared it a good day’s work by 1 pm or so, hung out some more with Emma, read, replied to his correspondents, enjoyed his family, and in the process eventually gave us the greatest idea anyone ever had.

Really nice work, if you can get it.


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