Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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June 22, 2019

Roy Salmond


I read a lovely Annie Dillard line the other day:

How we spend our day is how we spend our lives.

At first glance it seems overly obvious, but linger on the words and poetic thought invites interpretation.

Here is mine:


For me, Annie Dillard’s quote digs into my choices.

Her poetic words lead me to ask:

Am I making my life, or is my life making me?

It’s here the obvious becomes less so.


Without a purposeful dedication to how I want to live, I either react to life or respond to it.

We are confronted daily by negative news, imperfect relationships, spiritual paucity and empty careers that easily spark reaction and not measured, thoughtful responses.

Reaction is at the heart of these ubiquitous words:

It’s Not Fair.

Not enough love.

Not enough money.

Not enough happiness.


If we repeat this often, our days will be defined by not enough, and we’ll find ourselves wandering through life at a deficit.

Responding to life is to bring all our longings and desires to a point of positive focus and to imbue every moment of the day with a sense of meaning and purpose.


This is an amazing gift.

Not an obvious gift though, for when we take our choices for granted, we relinquish ourselves to the chaos of chance.

However, the choice to be present to all life brings is the gift of calm in the midst of the storm.

We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice.” said the critic John Berger. What do we see when we look at our day?

How we choose our days is how we choose our lives.

The featured image of the Stone Bed and Planting Wall is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with glad permission for The Cultivating Project. It was shot in England’s beautiful Lake District – one of Lancia’s favourite happy places.

For any who are interested, here is the full quote Roy is referring to from Annie Dillard in her fabulous book, The Writing Life.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”

 Annie Dillard


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