How We Spend Our Days


I was listening to what was for a time a wonderful and informative talk on retirement the other day on NPR. I was interested in most bows and hours visiting of what the speaker had to say. And then she made a statement that went something like this: “We need time in retirement to write a personal narrative.”

Although I understood that this is the kind of thing that someone says and most would agree with in principle, I couldn’t disagree more. I want my whole life to be my personal narrative. The idea of waiting until retirement to then take stock and adjust to become something akin to “good” or “wise” or some such a thing feels inauthentic. I want to make sure that I live while I’m alive, not wait for this living.

Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” And of course how we spend our lives IS our personal narrative and our legacy.

 “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”

- Annie Dillard

This journalist comment also comes mainly from living in a death phobic culture. And with this kind of throwaway  remark from the well-intentioned words, I am heartened all the more for the spaces that I am privileged to hold in my work. I love and cherish the edges. We need more inclusion of inquiry into our deaths, fears, passions and brilliances long before we are preparing our memoires. If not, we will not have much to write about.

“People living deeply have no fear of death.”
– Anais Nin

It’s the simple things that create the narrative of our lives. It’s the manner in which we live our lives that matter: How we move to and from the shops, how we engage with the difficult colleague as we pass by, how we treat the vulnerable widow down the street and the know-it-all teenage boy next door. Disposition is everything. It’s not about “failing” or not failing, but rather finding out what is really happening,  noticing and learning with less contraction or fear from the inside out. It may not be easy, but it is simple… and moreover, it is important. This is, after all, YOUR life.

I also know for myself, that through the interviews and workshops that I create, like for the In Your Own Skin documentary, I engage in this very practice.  I am creating a simple space in which to allow all sorts of ordinary saints to offer artful revelations of just such hidden treasure that lives in all of us. And as the interviewer, I get to tap into a space from my own life’s riches full of being broken open to love more.  In so doing, I am honoured to invite these wonderful beings to share safely. In my teaching, parenting and community life I have the opportunity to reveal more and more artfully the very things that are vulnerable in such a way that they become, in fact, the most powerful ground of awakening. There is freedom more and more from constructs and scripts and more surrender to presence as the ground of wisdom. By sharing our foibles, idiosyncrasies and the perfection of our imperfections with some intelligence and measure, we are all a little bit more free. And our personal narratives become more wise with no need to wait for anything like retirement.

What are the ways in which you feel most authentic in your disposition and living? How do you feel most present and true in your life?

Have a great day!

Katheryn TrenshawComment