what have i done with my life

Behind me climbs a tower of papers, each one containing a thought or a quote or an article that I want to write about here. A few minutes ago, I started shuffling through the stack. About midway down, I stopped on a piece of graph paper on which I had scrawled these thoughts from the character Glory in Marilynne Robinson’s Home:

“But oh, the evenings were long.  I am thirty-eight years old, she would say to herself, as she tidied up after supper.  I have a master’s degree.  I taught high school English for thirteen years.  I was a good teacher.  What have I done with my life?  What has become of it?  It’s as if I had a dream of adult life and woke up from it, still here in my parents’ house.”

I knew I had written about other characters expressing this same feeling and I wanted to connect them with Glory. In the search rectangle on the blog, I typed in “life.”

I found two posts: one titled “something more,” in which I wrote about Mrs. Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Clara in Black & White by Dani Shapiro; the other entitled “more than this,” in which I wrote about Ursula in Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence.

Here’s the weird thing: one was written on December 9th and the other on December 11th, 2008.

The end of the year pulls me toward reflection. But where’s the time?

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10 thoughts on “what have i done with my life

  1. I spent the day with my mom who turned 83 today. And she asked me the same thing,” But where’s the time?” I had no answer. But I do know that as I get older, it moves faster and faster.

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    • And there never seems to be enough of it for what I try to squeeze into the day. Just a minute ago I noticed how dark it was at 5:00 and now it’s 6:30. Late birthday wishes to your mother, Darrelyn.

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  2. A dangerous, thought-provoking question indeed. You’ve gpt a tower of paper behind you; I’m surrounded by boxes of photos, looking for some old snapshots to scan for Christmas presents for siblings. As you quoted Annie Dillard before, “how we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”

    Anyone who hasn’t seen the Albert Brooks & Meryl Streep flick “Defending Your Life” probably should, just to make sure they’re ready for Judgment Day. Tagline: “The first true story of what happens after you die.”

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    • Yes, good point, Chuck. I just need to carve out the time for what’s important. I think I need a priority list. Have fun with your photos and thanks for the movie recommendation. I can’t wait to see it.

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  3. That passage from Mrs. Dalloway is one of my favorites as well (although, how to narrow it down? That whole book is so incredible). Lovely little contemplation here, Cynthia – thanks for the post.

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    • Emily, nice to see you here. Speaking of time, I need to make time to visit your blog. I’ve been missing your GREAT reviews.

      I do love that quote from Mrs. Dalloway and as you mentioned, so many more.

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  4. Interesting observation on reflection as the year is almost over. Mrs. Dalloway made me aware of how a woman’s life can be so much more fulfilling these days, although Virginia Woolf herself would have been an exception for her time.

    I had a similar déjà vu moment as I started work on a new novel on December 11th of this year. Checking my blog archives, I learned that I’d gotten the idea for my last novel after going to bed on December 11th, 2008. Back then I was reading Shapiro’s Black & White. So many coincidences!

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    • Sarah, it’s interesting how moments in the year or seasons have rhythms for an individual. This seems to be a creative time of the year for you, whereas for me, it’s more reflective, a time of finishing rather than beginning things. Still, so many coincidences between us!

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  5. Interesting thoughts, indeed. I have three weeks away from school, and at this time of the year I begin to seriously reflect on where I have been and where I am going. I read old journals to catch a glimpse of the girl I was. I ponder who I want to be and attempt to capture her on paper so that I can check, in time to come, to see if I’ve had success.

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