“Sunday, 19 July, slept, awoke, slept, awoke, miserable life.”
Franz Kafka, The Diaries 1910-1923, edited by Max Brod
Today, Sunday, July 19, 2015, is my birthday, and I am in a reflective mood. Together, the month, the date, the day of the week, of course, recall Kafka’s famous diary entry. His mordant observation on a particular Sunday in July echoes that of a demon I sometimes hear during a restless night. Not often, but often enough – I hear him, acknowledge him, wait for him to retreat again to the dark corner, wait for new day.
A new day, another day to fill – with what, and how? My senses are heightened to the flow of time, gathering and quickening like a swollen river. With that sense comes a strange clarity and urgency, and yet hours, days can evaporate in triviality and indecision. In the face of dwindling time and energy, I find myself constantly asking, is this necessary? does that really matter? how should I live within the time and space that are mine alone? Thoreau and Montaigne, experts in the matters of their own internal states, believed that making those differentiations is the real work of life. “The cost of a thing,” wrote Thoreau, “is that which I call life, which is required to be exchanged for it immediately or in the long run.”
“A man once said to me, ‘I don’t mind your telling me my faults, they’re stale, but don’t tell me my virtues. When you tell me what I could be, it terrifies me.’ I was surprised then, I understand now, because I believe we may be faced with the need of living our strengths.”
Florida Scott-Maxwell, The Measure of My Days
I like that – “faced with the need of living our strengths.” It is a thing worth working on, preparing for, a thing that really matters.
Sunday, 19 July, slept, awoke, reflected, wonderful miserable life.