Sometimes I wonder why I write a blog. I could invest more time and energy in a novel, a story, or a poem, I think, rather than noting what seem to be haphazard observations about daily life. True, thoughts, feelings, opinions do come up, but so what?
I read that scientists estimate that we think 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s almost 3,000 per hour, 50 per minute and almost 1 per second. I gasped. Who has the energy for that? I also heard that HH the Dalai Lama quoted a figure of 80,000 thoughts a day, and then, with a laugh, added: “Only 2 are original.”
I started wondering what kind of energy is consumed by so much thinking, and how much more we could do with all that energy if we didn’t think so much.
“You could make me steak,” Aussie says.
“You could throw me my rabbit,” from Henry.
“We could walk a lot more,” Aussie again.
“Actually, I’d like to explore idleness,” I tell them.
“This is New England,” says Aussie. “Nobody’s idle in New England.”
“What about witnessing more life?” I speculate. “Watch the lilacs reaching out to the hummingbirds and the maple leaves as they tremble, while the leaves themselves reach out towards my office window across 5 feet of sunlight. Whaddya think?”
“Naaa,” says Aussie.
The diarist Sarah Manguso explained it this way: “I wrote so I could say I was truly paying attention. Experience in itself wasn’t enough. The diary was my defense against waking up at the end of my life and realizing I’d missed it.” She added: “The trouble was that I failed to record so much. I’d write about a few moments, but the surrounding time — there was so much of it! So much apparent nothing I ignored, that I treated as empty time between the memorable moments … I tried to record each moment, but time isn’t made of moments; it contains moments. There is more to it than moments. So, I tried to pay close attention to what seemed like empty time.”
It’s not that I don’t have material. I’m almost finished transcribing a meeting I had with a couple from Honduras about their journey up here with two small children. It’s sad and heroic all at the same time. (“What would you tell those who’re born here after all that you experienced?” I asked the father who related the story, bursting into tears a number of times. “Don’t take what you have for granted,” he said immediately.) I also want to raise money for camp for immigrants’ children whose parents work during the day at farms, and they have nowhere to go when schools are closed in summer.
I think about how the Pentagon just said it made a $3 billion accounting error, overpricing the equipment sent to Ukraine, which enables them to send even more to Ukraine without asking Congress for approval. That, of course, reminds me that I’m late with my bookkeeping for the month of April. “How does one make a $3 billion accounting error?“ I ask Aussie.
“Write about me,” suggests AussieEMP. “Lots more content there.”
Instead, like Manguso, I want to pay attention to empty time. To the lime green shine of spring leaves, the bird peeps as they build their nests. I recently downloaded the Merlin app that identifies birds by their song, among other things, but I forgot that most of the time I prefer to listen, not rush to pick up my phone, find the app, click the wrong button, click the right button, and wait for the search result.
What am I missing when I look up all those things, or hurry to take a photo with my phone? Nothing, just eternity.