Thursday, December 04, 2014

Mantras and Acorns

Odd how something can be sitting quietly in some dimly-lit and dusty corner of your mind for years without giving it a conscious thought. It wasn't until this morning that I was conscious of a word my mind had been repeating in the softest of whispers for I don't know how long. And it occurred to me that this single word was in fact a mantra which to a large degree rules my life. The word is accomplish. It's with me every waking hour, just below the surface of my consciousness, and I suspect in my dreams as well: accomplish. It probably would be helpful if it were modified by specifics, but it never is, and I guess that's part of the point: it isn't that I accomplish something specific, but that I accomplish something.

Since my skills are limited largely to putting my thoughts down on paper (ok, on the computer screen), it's why, I realize, that I feel I must write. Write something. Every single day. It's as though my time of existence in this world is a gigantic acorn tree, with each moment of my life an acorn. And I am one small squirrel, trying desperately to store away as many of those acorns as I can, while I can. It is why, when I don't write every single day, I feel guilty; like I've robbed myself of time which, once passed, is gone and lost forever—all those acorns lost. Had I worked diligently rather than done nothing, I could have used those non-productive seconds, minutes, and hours to store away who-knows-how-many more acorns. 

It is why I cannot spend hours at coffee or lunch with friends—my definition of accomplish does not include coffee or lunch. Unfortunately it also does not include a great many things in which I realize I should be taking pleasure, like just sitting somewhere enjoying my surroundings, or reading. (The act of reading is always accompanied by the awareness that in reading the words—the accomplishments—of others, I am losing time which could/should be spent recording as many of my own thoughts and experiences as I possibly can. And the irony is not lost on me that I am so busy recording my life that I don't have time to fully savor living it.

I know, too, that I will never—and never possibly could—accomplish everything I would like to accomplish, to write all the books I would like to write, or post all the blogs I'd like to post, or see all the places I would so like to see, or spend time with all the people—even those I already know, let alone everyone I would like to meet—I wish I could spend time with. So that means I must—we all must—establish some sort of list of priorities of what we wish to do with the time available to us. Not an easy task, and not unlike trying to fit a gallon of milk into a one-quart container.

That other people do not feel this need does not make me feel superior to them—just, yet again, different from them. They obviously feel neither the need nor the desire for constant self-reflection. Most of them have other people into whom they channel their time, efforts and thoughts and are too busy living their life to think much about leaving a record of it.

And just this instant, I flashed, as is my wont, on the TV show "Hoarders," about people who, for whatever reason, so cram their homes with things they are unable/unwilling to get rid of that their homes, and their lives, become uninhabitable. Stacks and mounds and piles which they compulsively continue to add. At times I suspect the house of my mind is like one of the homes featured on the program, except that instead of magazines and newspapers and porcelain dolls and never-worn clothes and battered lamp shades, my mind is crammed with memories and thoughts and speculations and questions. 

I would imagine hoarders consider that they are accomplishing something by hoarding; that no one else can figure out what that something is is beside the point. I tell myself that I am not a hoarder of past memories on the grounds that I freely share them with anyone who expresses even the slightest interest (and, at times, I realize, even with those who really have no interest but are simply too polite to ignore me). The problem is that, after I've shown them my mountainous stacks of acorns, the acorns are still there. 

Hey, that's a pretty profound thought! Another acorn! I think I can squeeze it in over there, on top of that stack of memories of all the cars I've owned in my life.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I've come to think of our books as a storage unit for ideas and memories we want to hold on a kind of concrete or permanent way. We can look at a book and think "I wrote 'this' into it. It's there. I can feel it. I can read it."

Incidentally, I watched several episodes of Hoarders with the hubby years back and it prompted him to get rid of a huge number of things I'd hoped he would. He wasn't quite that bad, but we both had room for improvement.