T.G.I.F.: “I’m done.”

Onward to the night, which is to say insomnia, cell phone on the bedside table, the mind drilling away with yet more frantic interior list-making. Don’t forget! Remember to … Have you … Did you …? Whole decades can go this way—and have—not just in domestic detail, but awash in the brackish flotsam of endeavor, failure and success, responsibility and reward. My work, as I say with foolish vanity. Deadlines piled upon deadlines. That devilishly apt word deadline, the heart seizing as if shot, hands wringing for a reprieve—a week, a day? But delivering. Always delivering. You can count on me. That, in fact, is the problem…

What a surprise—to discover it’s all about leisure, apparently, this fugitive Real Life, abandoned all those years to the “limitless capacity for toil.” What a hard worker you are: always taken as a compliment. You can count on me. Smiling. Deadline met. Always. You should try meditating or maybe yoga, yoga’s good, someone suggested when I mentioned the fevered to-do lists, the sometimes alarming blood pressure readings, the dark-night-of-the-soul insomnia. But meditating is just another thing. Yoga? Another task, yet another item for the to-do list. I find I cannot add another item. I’m done.

~ Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)

Portrait: upne.com


  1. This is the sad truth for the majority of the working world. However, you know I decided long ago, to live on a island, and yes it meant huge sacrifice, a very long to-do-list, letting go and learning to meditate and be still, and learning yet again, to let go again and again. But eventually, I got a ticket and landed on the island. It’s an amazing place to live, and I’m glad I did the hard yards to get here. (The island.. Is in you. And it’s never easy to get to, but it’s worth every step!) 🌈✈️🌈💕🍃☀️🌈

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Echoes of my life before retirement. And oh, how I missed this for awhile thereafter. Until I discovered life – and began to define myself not as a road warrior, one who willingly played hurt – but as one who could embrace nobler pursuits, like being alive

    Liked by 3 people

    • Willingly play hurt. Beautifully stated Mimi.


    • “Wasn’t it Fitzgerald, St. Paul boy, first literary hero, who said bitterly toward the end of his life that “the natural state of the sentient adult is a qualified unhappiness”? By turns rhapsodic and vexed, he was more profoundly American in his ambition and his romance for the country—those boats against the current, the dark fields of the republic rolling on under the night—than he-man Hemingway with his fishing and hunting, his safaris and wars. Eventually, Fitzgerald was fed up with striving, with what he called “the bitch goddess of success.” In the depths of the Depression (his own and America’s) he wrote his “Crack-Up” essays when he couldn’t bear the effort anymore—“ my limitless capacity for toil.” Another deadline-beset soul.”

      ~ Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day (Penguin Publishing Group. April 17, 2018)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. …. and I thought YOU had written that text 😉 So why do I feel it could have been you?
    Be careful with your life. After all, you’re not James Bond.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This started to disappear slowly with Generation X and Millennials. They still deliver though. And they doubt them til the very end. And I think this is what they are here to teach.

    As to insomnia, I had two rough nights this will where all the sleep managed to get was 2 to 3 hours a night. I was sure I’ll suffer the following days at work. But, No! I was fine. I thought, “This must be how DK feels.” Then kame last night, I slept straight from 9 to 7 this morning. My heart beat is finally at a normal pace. The two days I didn’t sleep my heart was racing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “the apt word, ‘deadline.’ perfect


  6. Appreciate Hampl’s writing, her sharing of the dark nights of her soul. What jumpled out at me: “But meditating is just another thing.” OMG–how wrong. “Life of the mind” becomes insanity unless one pauses to listen. If the mind never shuts up, its inhabitant hears less and less. Hampl is giving it her all, so, rooting for her and all the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m guessing if you can meditate and set everything else aside while you are doing so, bingo. If not and I can’t, it’s another line on to do list.


    • And Valerie, your thought reminds me of:

      “People who are constantly thinking, who have forgotten the location of the off switch in their internal TV, are usually speaking to themselves as well. The tongue and jaw contract, release and make extremely small, invisible movements continually. The fact that tension is often unconscious or chronic does not make it any less damaging. What you don’t know can hurt you! Continuous tension, whether conscious or not, is a continuous drain on the vitality and qi. Chinese medicine considers these tensions to be the root of most psychological problems.”

      –pg 227 “The Way of Qigong” by Kenneth S. Cohen
      (Courtesy of Beth @ http://allchannels.blogspot.com/?view=magazine)


  7. I can’t totally agree with her. To be worthy of a life on this earth, you have to work hard to be productive and do some good to the best of your ability. (I want to stress “to the best of your ability” because we all have different levels of capabilities.) It’s not helpful toward making the world a better place if you just laze around and be a user. But there is a middle pace in there somewhere and that’s what I aim for.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hits too close to home.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Christie says:

    Patricia Hampl, I’ve not heard of her…she’s rec’d amazing recognition throughout her life…many when I was growing up. Her thoughts of deadline and real life, make me thankful that she realized in time that life has seasons and is finite and that she has time to embrace, what she sees as real life…/// her honest frankness is engaging…”awash in the brackish flotsam of endeavor, failure and success, responsibility and reward” I read two additional pieces…one of her’s and one a review of a piece she wrote…I hope some of you chose to read these… as much of what she writes to me is touching,relevant and material for pondering and much future quoting… hope you enjoy: https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/h/hampl-stories.html?mcubz=0 and the review of another of her piece with lots of quotes! https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/99/06/27/reviews/990627.27simo.html

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Late to this party, pal. I was pushing to hit a deadline yesterday…sigh. Hampl’s words hit close to the bone…. I am made keenly aware of the disparity in how I spend my time when on vacation. It takes 3-5 days for me to ramp down and simply enjoy *being* again, without need to produce or complete. And then once I get to that blissful state of ‘present,’ I wonder why I ever left. Much grist for the mill here…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Re: my earlier comment – glad to see you are quoting, her work! Hope you’ve glanced at those two links- if you did I know you have gained…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Her writing is so descriptive…the way she draws one in..it is as if I’m sitting on her shoulder, observing or am parked in her mind, gleaning…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: