“This is the earnest work. Each of us is given
only so many mornings to do it—
to look around and love
the oily fur of our lives,
the hoof and the grass-stained muzzle.
Days I don’t do this
I feel the terror of idleness,
like a red thirst.
Death isn’t just an idea.”
– Mary Oliver, The Deer
Each morning I jot down one sentence that sums up the day prior in my Clear Habit Journal. This one exercise alone has prompted me to be more creative in my days; to seek adventures worthy of writing down. But there are plenty of days when I just go to work (which currently means walking downstairs) and maybe had a meaningful conversation with someone. And sometimes that’s enough. But in the back of my mind I feel that tomorrow morning I ought to write something down that was worthy of a day alive. For as Mary Oliver says above, each of us is given only so many mornings, and death isn’t just an idea.
Saturday morning brought tales of night swimming with my bride and hot embers warming cold skin. Sunday morning brought soreness and a note about the magical Franconia Ridge Trail. And this morning brings a summary of bottles of wine, grilled goodness and laughter with friends at a distance. This was a string of worthy days and I work to compress the entirety of it all into one sentence that somehow may sum it up. These are moments of quiet smiles and satisfaction. Sometimes I write about adventures above tree line, but sometimes I write about installing a new toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Both count just the same as worthy entries.
Just as the blog forces me to reach beyond my comfortable place to explore and try new things, the daily sentence lingers as a cold-hearted judgement on the worthiness of any given 24 hours on this planet. If that seems like a lot to live up to, well, so be it. I believe we’ve got to live with urgency for all the reasons I’ve written about before that you already know too. Someday I’ll have my last morning on this planet, and I hope the day that follows it is so epic that I wish I’d had one more to write down what I did. Those single day entries will pass on to those who survive me, and I hope they’ll see the sparkle and shimmer of a life well-lived, one day at a time.