Lovely Literature: “Leisure”

20 Oct

I first ran across this lovely little poem about a year ago, and it really resonated with me.  Life and school were starting to pile up; and people kept reminding me that it was time to figure out precisely what I wanted to do with my life.  Everyone wanted answers as to “what I was going to do”, “where was I applying”, “where was I going?” I had no idea; well that isn’t actually true.  You see I went to law school with the idea that I could work with an auction house specializing in fine arts. I have been having a love affair with history for years, pretty much since my first history book on the ancient Greeks.  This continued through my undergraduate years, and it was supposed to be part of my employment plans. But then the financial crisis hit, Sallie Mae loans started getting higher and higher, and the jobs scarcer and scarcer.   That high-paying job at the New York law firm dealing with Insurance fraud started sounding a little nicer. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure what I wanted to do.  I had already been so caught up in school and making sure that my laundry and dishes stayed done that I hadn’t read a history-based book or article in nearly two years. Did it really mean that much to me?–Wouldn’t the monetary reward of a big job be enough?

But that was when God used my world to step in.  Radio stations, news articles, Facebook posts, even those little Pinterest pictures friends sent me–everything around me was suddenly saying: “Stop.” and “Live!” Heck YOLO! was showing up everywhere.  And I came to the realization that it’s true: You only get one chance to enjoy the world.  I don’t care how you depict life after death (or the absence of it), you only get one chance to see the world as it is today. It’s going to be different tomorrow, more changes in a year, and even more in 5 years. It’s never quite the same. That sparrow is only there today, it’ll be on another branch next spring. The pyramids may or may not show up in Paradise–I’m not sure and I certainly can’t count on it. So if I want to enjoy this world, then I need to do it now.  

 God didn’t put us on this world to be unhappy work-horses until we die.   Don’t put off life with promises of “some day”; not to be cliche, but you cannot count on forever.  I’m not saying drop everything and run off to be a pop star.  Just don’t forget to take a little time in your day-to-day life to have fun. It isn’t worth it if you realize that you spent your entire life unhappily only to reach the end and realize it’s too late. And remember: you could always die tomorrow.  Old age isn’t promised to anyone; and youth only lasts so long.

It is with this message that was one of the major motivators for encouraging me to start this blog. Now look at what I’ve done–I’m the author/manager of 3 websites and 8 blogs.  I’m preparing to publish one of my research papers that I’ve devoted several years to, one that I’m truly interested in.  I’ve traveled to Asia, I spent a wonderful summer with my best friend in Japan, I’ve taken amazing trips around the US with my mom and family, I’ve gotten more serious about photography, and I”m back to writing, drawing, cooking, and playing the piano–all things I had gotten away from after starting law school.  Thanks to returning to what I love, I’m once again pursuing my interest in history and art through my work.  I’m taking my law degree and doing what I want to with it–working in cultural resource/art law.  But it took remembering and going back to what I enjoy to pull me to what I wanted my future to be.  I’m actually enjoying my life again.

That is what this poem is about–“What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?”


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

William Henry Daviesz

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