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.

Reflections on Fear, Freedom and Growing Up

I’ve got an essay up at The Millions today. It was inspired by some similarities I’ve observed reading my brother Ryan’s emails from abroad and watching my one-year-old son James cruise around the living room. I tie the two of them into my life, noting that these days I dont explore as widely as I used to:

Recently two people who wouldn’t seem to have much in common—my 26-year-old brother and my one-year-old son—have both had me thinking about wonder and fear, and how their experiences of those two things are similar to each other’s, and different from my own.