scheduling time

I adore this portrait of May Sarton. I used it in a blog post on August 8, 2009. I also used some of the same quotes, but I had a very different reaction to them two years ago. 

Polly Thayer's portrait of May Sarton owned by the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University

There is nothing to be done but go ahead with life moment by moment and hour by hour–put out birdseed, tidy the rooms, try to create order and peace around me even if I cannot achieve it inside me.

As the last days of summer float by, I feel like I’m swimming upstream against them, periodically climbing onto the river bank to put out the next fire. I don’t really think that’s what May Sarton meant by going “ahead with life moment by moment.” And, unfortunately, I’m not even in the same universe with putting out birdseed and tidying rooms. How can I have so much to do?

I’ve been printing blank weekly calendars from the internet and making lists, thinking about the best way to shape the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. On one of my lists from yesterday was “schedule time for reading.” You’ve got to be kidding, I say to my list. It’s come to this?

“That was what I was after–a daily rhythm, a kind of fugue of poetry, gardening, sleeping and waking in the house.”

I like fugue for its sense of interweaving of parts, for its writerly rhythm.

But at the moment I’m not sure fugue is going to get it done. In fact, what I need is a general to command the troops, to whip all these to-dos into shape. And less sleep. Maybe if I get up an hour earlier…

Just so you know, Eleanor Marie Sarton was born in Belgium in 1912. All of her quotes in this post can be found in  Journal of a Solitude, published in 1973.

How about the rest of you–how are your summers going?

12 thoughts on “scheduling time

  1. My spirits have lifted since reading this. You have such a lovely way of putting things. It heartens me to think only of the tasks around me while the universe goes to hell. Perhaps if I can cultivate a little order in my little corner of the world, the ripple effect will produce something good.

    I don’t know if you meant the post this way, but it was a comfort to me.


  2. What beautiful lines! I believe this is a very good advice: “try to create order and peace around me even if I cannot achieve it inside me”, and I like her way of stressing the importance of the everyday & ordinary as a way to establish a rhythm in life.
    I have never read any of her work, thank you for introducing me to it!


  3. I really like that painting and the thoughtful words. My summer started out fun with a long vacation of travel and reading. I’ve been too caught up in housework and bad weather (too hot or wet) that I haven’t been able to paint, but today I’m packing my art bag and going. I shall schedule in reading tonight too.


  4. I wish I had intended that, Erika, so I’m glad you added your comment, which has caused me to lift my eyes from my little corner to the world around me. Together, we have the whole picture : )

    And I’m responding from my desk an hour earlier than I would normally be here.


  5. This struggle is part of, inseparable from, getting to that place. It is the part where you are trying to get everything you need to get moving in the right direction. One day it flips and you are in the groove you wanted to be in. But I don’t think it happens without this struggle, this effort.


  6. The idea of scheduling time for reading makes me laugh, because I have done that many times. Scheduling anything and everything (or at least, putting it on a never-completed to-do list) was a constant part of my last 5 years of Ph.D. This summer has been about NOT scheduling or making long to-do lists, and trying to grow into a new way of approaching the whole idea of it for myself.

    Getting a hen as Darrelyn suggests seems like a nice, whimsical start actually!


  7. Willow, I have never had to schedule time to read before-it always just seemed to fall into my free time or the evenings…Now I’m using evenings for work too. Oh, summer should be about NOT scheduling things. That’s what I’ll be aiming for next year. Your plan seems to be working for you. I’ve been enjoying your posts. Did you see you are the featured blog here for August : )


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