Time and the Art of Living, Part 1

At the risk of being accused of possessing no imagination or creativity on my blog, over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my favorite thoughts from a book that I read last year – “Time and the Art of Living” by Robert Grudin. It’s a set of short writings that the author wrote during a year-long sabbatical from his job as a Professor of English at the University of Oregon in the early 1980’s. I read this book during my last bout of unemployment, and found that it really provided some perspective on my life, the world, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. I am using it again during my current unemployment because I liked the way it made me feel before. I am digressing, though. Rather than preach about philosophy, I’ll just get on to the first passage. Enjoy:

“A foolish person is not only oblivious to the necessities of the future but unfriendly to his own past. His manifold and miscellaneous blunders are expunged from memory, attributed to external circumstance, or otherwise laundered clean of blame; failing this, he may repudiate his own past, like some locust skin, as something he had transcended or outgrown. He habitually seeks the new, regarding each superficial change as a means to final success and tranquility, unaware that the same error can be made in a thousand different ways. He is so shallow in time, so oblivious to continuity, that the present itself, no matter how hackneyed or repetitious it may be, has always a glimmering newness for him, a promise of unprecendented and undeserved freedom. Each embrace of this promise is a rejection of true freedom, which is born of self-awareness and partakes as much of recollection as it does of planning. And contempt for one’s past is a deadly form of self-contempt, an involuntary avowal of worthlessness which poisons every enterprise.”

Robert Grudin

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One Comment on “Time and the Art of Living, Part 1”

  1. Mike Lewis Says:

    This quote sounds exactly like he’s describing Christof’s drinking habits…..”His manifold and miscellaneous blunders are expunged from memory, attributed to external circumstance, or otherwise laundered clean of blame; failing this, he may repudiate his own past, like some locust skin, as something he had transcended or outgrown. He habitually seeks the new, regarding each superficial change as a means to final success and tranquility, unaware that the same error can be made in a thousand different ways. He is so shallow in time, so oblivious to continuity, that the present itself, no matter how hackneyed or repetitious it may be, has always a glimmering newness for him, a promise of unprecendented and undeserved freedom.”


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