Thursday, February 19, 2009

"It is only an evening"

"The mere consciousness of an engagement will sometimes worry a day away."

See also Jenny Diski:
Being really alone means being free from anticipation. Even to know that something is going to happen, that I am required to do something is an intrusion on the emptiness I am after. What I love to see is an empty diary, pages and pages of nothing planned. A date, an arrangement, is a point in the future when something is required of me. I begin to worry about it days, sometimes weeks ahead. Just a haircut, a hospital visit, a dinner party. Going out. The weight of the thing-that-is-going-to-happen sits on my heart and crushes the present into non-existence. My ability to live in the here and now depends on not having any plans, on there being no expected interruption. I have no other way to do it. How can you be alone, properly alone, if you know someone is going to knock at the door in five hours, or tomorrow morning, or you have to get ready and go out in three days' time? I can't abide the fracturing of the present by the intrusion of a planned future.


  1. Yes. That is why people who are inefficient about their reference requests (say) are such a nightmare. If you can clear it away in an afternoon it is not a problem; if the thing must be done, but someone must be chased, and chased, and chased, and chased, before it can be finished, the whole block of time before the actual deadline is killed.

    That is also why any editor who is good about closure is a joy (not that I've known any, but that is why such an editor is the desideratum). If someone gives a quick, clear answer one can deal with it and forget about it. If someone says he will discuss by Wednesday of next week at the latest (killing all the time between) and then postpones and then postpones and then postpones, there is never any clear time at all.

  2. This is why one must always make a point of remembering that death may come at any time, even before the lunch date tomorrow or the deadline for the article on Wednesday.

    Remembering this constantly has given me a peaceful and constant outlook on life only broken when I realize that a deadline for an assignment approaches, I have done nothing, and although always possibile, death seems increasingly unlike to step in on time to rescue me.

  3. This is the second time you have posted this extraordinary paragraph--I think the first time was about 2 years ago because I printed a copy and had it on my fridge in Ecuador in 2007.

    I think of it every single day and re-read it at least 2 or 3 times a month. When people ask me about my soliary sem-reclusive manner of living, sometimes I show it, read it or email. Talking with a friend, she persuaded me to do the enneagram test based on my thing about intrusion. Usually not my kind of thing at al; but I came out a 5 with 4 wing, quite evenly matched and it's a fit.

    This paragraph has done more for me in accepting who I am and living my life accordingly than anything in recent years. Before this paragraph I thought I was doing pretty well all things considered, and now, post=Diski, I think I am even closer to where I want to be for the years remaining.

  4. Thank you, Jenny, for re-posting this wonderful paragraph. It has liberated me, as well.