I’ve been thinking about that Annie Dillard quote: “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
A scary thought, considering how many of my days I spend in a gray, windowless building answering the phone for eight hours.
Here’s an even scarier thought: I don’t really mind it. Many people recoil at the mere thought of taking a corporate cubicle job. Not me! Even when I don’t love my work, I do what I need to do to get through it. I have at least a brown belt in dissociation, distancing myself from my surroundings.
I’m another prodigy whose skill, it’s revealed, is just thousands of hours of childhood practice. A spiritual Houdini, again and again I threw off the chains of family dysfunction and my own complete lack of social skills, only to have to perform again the next day. I lifted my soul out of reality and into books and daydreams and self-deceptions.
Is it any wonder I have trouble with mindfulness? With prayer? My mind has been so conditioned to flee the scene that I find myself disconnecting even from the necessary and good: bolting my food, sabotaging my productivity with another glance at Facebook, obsessing over what I should have said while sunsets melt away in my unseeing eyes.
I don’t want to spend my days, my life, running away from what’s right in front of me. I want to believe, to live like I believe, that my whole life is God’s gift to me. The food, the friends, even the cubicle job are reflections of God’s goodness to me, but I have to stay in the moment to truly understand that.
They say do what you love, but whose life isn’t made up, by necessity, of many things they don’t love? Even my dream job would involve doing my taxes or cleaning my desk. Can I learn to love these things too? Can I train my mind, like a loyal dog, to stay close to the Master through all kinds of nasty weather and difficult terrain, happy just for a sight of that beloved face?
I realized another meaning to the Annie Dillard quote: I can see today as a microcosm of my life. When the day is over, when my life is over, what choices do I want to have made? Eight hours at a job I don’t love seems like a long time, but if I escape, the day is over and I wonder where it went. My dreams dissipate and I’m left with nothing lasting.
If I can’t make it through eight hours of mild unpleasantness by looking forward to the end of the day when I can come home to my beloved family, how can I look forward to the end of my life with confidence that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing”?
By grace, I know it’s not too late to learn to stay in the moment, to keep my eyes and ears open to God’s voice. May I look and listen for signs of God’s love and places where love is needed in the world – because in the end, that’s what my life should be about every day.