"Needle," (2006), by Lance Letscher. Photograph by Christopher Zaleski
By Jamie Quatro
Some mornings my calendar is empty. On such mornings I wake up and make coffee and think: Today, at last, I can write. Today I will fill the empty hours with words. But when I sit at my desk and open my laptop, I feel guilty for the decision to use up the empty hours stringing together words that may, or may not, remain in the world. I feel I should instead string together actions that will remain in the world, important physical deeds with definite human outcomes, such as: go to yoga class, schedule annual dermatologist appointment, take husband’s shirts to dry cleaner, buy organic produce and meat and cook meal for family. Then I close the laptop and do the important physical acts, all the while feeling guilty that I have chosen to waste the hours in which I could be writing.
Some mornings my calendar is full. On such mornings I wake up and make coffee and think: Today, at last, I don’t have to write. Today I will do the important physical acts I have prepared in advance to do. But when I begin to look over the schedule and plan the particular series of stops around town, I feel guilty for the decision to prioritize these nonessential physical activities over the psychologically essential act of stringing together words. I skip the yoga class and cancel the dermatologist appointment and put my husband’s shirts in the washing machine and schedule delivered pizza for dinner. Then I sit at my desk and open my laptop and string together words, all the while feeling guilty that I have chosen to neglect the physical deeds with definite human outcomes in order to prioritize words that may, or may not, remain in the world.
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