Next time you start feeling uppity, remember the Ring Nebula. It’s an exploding star that is millions of miles away. Since it is blowing up, it’s expanding. Astronomers can measure these things and say that the Ring Nebula expands at a rate of 43,000 miles an hour. That’s a million miles a day. Can you imagine such a thing? Can you imagine that our universe is so indescribably huge and wonderful (I’m mean, really, how can you describe this with our meager language and understanding?) It’s amazing and helps me keep my little troubles in perspective.
That’s not to say that our lives and worlds are without meaning. As wonderful as an exploding star is, it’s not nearly as important to me as a sick child or a cup of coffee with my wife. But, sometimes, it’s good to remember that the universe rolls on in mysterious and enormous ways.
Annie Dillard on Living Life
Yesterday I posted one of my favorite quips of good advice:
“Whatever you do today is what you do.”
I can’t remember the source but a reader sent me a similar quote from Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend out lives.”
Following the Annie Dillard rabbit hole – it’s a Saturday and I’ve got a few minutes to wander leisurely – I found this wonderful essay written by William Deresiewicz titled Where Have You Gone, Annie Dillard? The essay is putatively a review of Dillard’s new book of essays The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New, but it is just as much a review of Dillard’s work over the last forty years. The essay captures Dillard’s genius and makes me want to go back and read every word she has written. I immediately dashed off a tweet to Deresiewicz and thanked him for the best ten minutes I’ve had in a very long time.
Not everyone enjoys Dillard – drat all fashion! She is sublime when writing about nature. Materialists will bristle, though, as under every gorgeously described husk of a dead dragonfly, she is searching for hints of god. Theists of a traditional sort will feel the same irritation. The god she seeks is not found in medieval scripts. Whatever your view, I cannot for a moment imagine someone reading Ms. Dillard and not coming away enriched.
The Annie Dillard page on Amazon
Annie Dillard homepage where she tells the truth
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