“I Have Wasted My Life”

This poem is one of David Mitchell’s favourite passages, according to a piece in The Atlantic. He explains: “For me, the poem’s chief value is as a reminder to stay inside the moment.”

“Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

I love reading the details of things that inspire writers and authors. I also love reading about their habits and work ethic, even if only to remind myself that I need to start being more disciplined and show up more often.

Mitchell’s three rules for making sure he stays focused on writing:

  1. Neglect everything else.
  2. Get disciplined. Learn to rush to your laptop and open it up.
  3. Keep the Apple homepage, because it’s rather boring.

I love that. “Neglect everything else.” Something to aspire to.

Sorry I haven’t been showing up lately. I’ll try to do better. 


Categories: Reading

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