The Art of the Day

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my days to look like- I think it’s hard to figure out what an ideal ‘life’ would be, but the smaller decisions are much easier to parse: what time to wake up and go to sleep, and how to mix family, work, and other activities throughout the day.

My attention to routine was prompted in part by a few encounters with the work of Haruki Murakami. I’ve written an essay about the way he’s influenced my thinking, and it appears today at The Millions. An excerpt:

What appealed to me most about Murakami’s essay was the way it joined something very big, like writing a novel, with something very small, like what time each day to go to bed. I was twenty-seven at the time and still very much befuddled by the large-scale project of adult life. Murakami’s essay was not a panacea, but it did sketch a type of path that I thought I might be capable of following. While I may not have known exactly what I wanted from the next fifty years, with a little reflection I could parse the minor decisions in my days—what to eat, who to see, how to spend the last hour before bed. I hoped, maybe against odds, that the answers to larger questions would resolve themselves out of the gradual buildup of small but deliberate choices.

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