Wednesday, May 10, 2006


In my meeting this morning Dr. Woodley, in his characteristic epigrammatic style, insisted that “with everything in life, we ought to ask ‘what am I getting out of this, long term?’” I don’t know that I can answer the question satisfactorily.

There is no permanence to things. But things (or the act of acquiring them) often pass for meaning. I read once that Andy Warhol's apartment was full of bags of groceries when he died, that he bought things merely to fill the void. The story may be false, but the essence rings true. Our lives lack meaning or permanence, so we buy things to fill them.

Today, on the way back from running errands, I dropped into Barnes and Noble to buy a P.G. Wodehouse novel. I’ve been told I should read him. The five pages I have read are hilarious. But something tells me I’m wasting my life if I’m not doing something with purpose every minute of every day. Probably I’m too young to feel this, and it’s assuredly a byproduct of the type-A personality that got me into medical school. Recognizing the source does not answer the question though. I’ve just bought a “thing” something with which to fill an idle moment.

So the question arises, what do I do with my life? Not the grand aim, I'll ponder that later. Right now, what do I do with the five minutes walking to lunch, or is walking to lunch all I need to be concerned with? What do I do with the twenty minutes driving home? The hour of free time between work and study and sleep? The sum of “spare moments” is the majority of life. I’m bothered how I’m spending mine.


Aiming at Proverbs 31 said...

I would think that you are not "wasting" time reading Wodehouse, but enriching the time. Are there better ways? Maybe. But in the same way that medicine is pointless without poetry, or music, so life is maybe pointless without at least some enjoyment of funny literature. God created us to live in this world and gave us the great gift of being able to enjoy many things. Don't ever be afraid of "spending" not "wasting" time on enjoying God's creation - even His creation of authors. Resting, chatting with family or friends, or just sitting in your back yard can be indispensible parts of life, and considering your "type A" personality, you will probably not be tempted to laziness. BTW, I am Colleen's mom, in case you wonder how I found your blog.

Nathan said...

Thanks for dropping by. You're right I think, but sometimes, usually when I've spent an afternoon doing something utterly unproductive or even improving (like the one time I read through all of Ebert's zero star reviews) I get a horrible feeling like sickness. It's like a quote from Fight Club: "This is your life, and it's ending, one moment at a time." Sometimes I feel an almost depressing need to be productive. What "productive" means is always up for internal debate.