A reflection of what it is in this life you prize most highly

I have been thinking nonstop about Anne Lamott’s piece, about our true wealth being this moment, this hour, this day. As usual, she is basically the oracle to me, among my wisest and most impactful teachers. I agree with her initial assertion “that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder.” She herself says that this is not revolutionary, but in fact the basis for “almost all wisdom traditions.” She talks about “chances of lasting connection or amazement” and I think of Mary Oliver’s glorious line that often scrolls through my thoughts:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement

Let us all be less cynical, less negative, less judgmental.  Let us all have more wonder, more trust, more giving each other space to be human.  Let us all remember that almost everyone is really just doing the best they can.

What Anne’s essay has me thinking about today, though, is about the way we make time for that which we really value.  In fact, I think that if we each looked back over how we have spent the last day or week, we would see, in neon animation, a graph of what it is we really honor and think is important.  That’s what we make time for.  Most often, this happens instinctively, without much forethought or analysis.  It simply is.  We just say yes to that which we care most about.  Other times, we have to actively, even fiercely guard the time for certain activities or people who are near to our hearts.

Let’s no longer hide behind the excuse that we “don’t have time.”  The truer response would be “I don’t care enough to really protect the time.”  Maybe this is harsh, but I think it’s also true.  Think long and hard about how you spend your precious hours, the only currency in this life that I personally think is actually worth anything.  And if you look carefully at these choices, you will see a reflection of what it is in this life you prize most highly.  Do you like what you see?

12 thoughts on “A reflection of what it is in this life you prize most highly”

  1. You’ve got me thinking of course! What an interesting exercise in self-reflection. “Making time for what we value.” I lost that in the first few years of motherhood. And because of it, I lost myself. My children were my only focus, and now I realize that in focusing on myself, on making time for myself, I’m really giving them the best gift. The gift of a happier, more engaged mother.

  2. ok, I was about to catch up on some blogs, and (not surprised) you’ve stopped me in my tracks. The Anne Lamott piece is amazing, but especially so after spending time this past weekend in an achingly beautiful and oh-so-quiet piece of Vermont…and the ensuing thoughts of choices we make vis a vis home, school, career.

    Anne Lamott has been on my to-do list for a while now. Where would you recommend starting? Operating Instructions? Blue Shoe?

  3. Oh! As I told Denise yesterday, I am jealous of you for having Anne’s wonderful words unread ahead of you. I love her 5 non-fiction books and admit I’ve never read her fiction. Her most famous is Bird by Bird, which is about creativity and writing. Operating Instructions is a journal of her son Sam’s first year. Grace Eventually, Travelling Mercies, and Plan B are my personal favorites: they are all examinations of faith and ordinary life, by turns tear-jerking and hilariously funny. You can’t go wrong!!!

  4. Amen girl! What a wonderful reminder of values–I was just talking to a client the other day and asked him if I could look at your life would I see what you value most by our actions? Stopped him in his tracks!

    It is always a good reminder for me too–looking and reassessing and making time for what matters most!


  5. Important reminders. Nonetheless, when life intervenes with multiple challenges, it’s not quite so cut and dry as making time for what matters most. We have far less control than that. Some choices are not ours.

  6. I agree with you. I have railed often against the notion that our actions perfectly reflect our intentions and deepest feelings, since I know first-hand that is just not true in a life with expectations and demands. On the whole though I think there is much to learn from what we choose to protect, and what we find a way to do. That’s all I meant here.

  7. A party with my dearest friends and family, writing, helping my clients, reading Rumi, a nap with amazing dreams… reading your blog right now… I completely agree, at least in days recently passed and in this moment, that I spend my time on what I love most.

    So… off to hang with Andy and the kids.

  8. Lindsay,

    Anne has long been one of my all-time favorites. (Of course you and I love Grace, Eventually.) I just started Imperfect Birds, her most recent work of fiction. But I think she is at her best when she sticks to non-fiction. I would recommend that a new reader start with Traveling Mercies to understand the context of her writing.

    Where did you find this essay? Being closer to Anne’s age, I say ditto to it all. It does get easier and easier to live this way as you go along. The decision to back-burner the non-essential becomes almost a reflex. It’s wonderful to be able to let things slide in order to pursue the most meaningful experiences. Delicious…almost like playing hooky. Maybe that could be a goal: allowing ourselves to “skip school” at least once a week.

  9. these are good words/ reminders.
    we are in the thick of life with our 15 year old son who is stretching me to the absolute limit… I love him so much but, it kills me to see him struggle so – to make questionable decisions – to constantly fall short of the mark – consequences – freedom – responsibility – all my mental energy is spent is wrapped around him and yet I know, that his twin sister needs me to be present to her – and I am supposed to work full time outside my home and care about small details for strangers…. it is a challenging time.

  10. I loved this, friend.

    I think about this so much. What I value, I am doing. Ouch on some days. And a relieved “Ah” on other days. Because sometimes I don’t work toward making spaces of time for the things I do truly value most because I get lazy and lost.

    I LOVED that article by Anne Lamott, too. It gave me just the push I needed.

  11. I like this: “Let us all remember that almost everyone is really just doing the best they can.”

    I believe that so strongly.

    I can tell you that by looking at how I spend my time, I most certainly do not value a clean house. That is for certain. 😉

  12. So poetic and beautiful. Reminded me of this Mary Oliver quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

    I need to frame that quote, because every time I read it I am reminded to make the most of my time here.

    Thank you for writing this piece. So lovely.

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