What To Do Right Now

Sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon, eyeing the implacable to-do list. I’ve always believed a freelance writer’s work is never done. There is always another magazine to pitch, another blog to write, another idea to flesh out, another email to send, another newsletter to read. The opportunities are as limitless as grains of sand and each one missed feels like a small but meaningful moral failure.

That is my archaic Protestant blood; the part of me descended from Huguenots and who knows what else: Methodists, Calvinists, Puritans? They’re mixed up in my family tree. The clear line is work, duty and the precariousness of salvation. All I did was replace the fear of damnation with the fear of failure.

It is a poor exchange. The reward is as evanescent as the demands are arbitrary. What heaven? Whose definition of success?

Meanwhile, Trump threatens nuclear war. White supremacists roam free across the US. Britain is committing slow motion suicide in the name of Brexit.

We live in the proverbial interesting times.

I would like to have something wise to say about this and don’t.

What I can recommend to everyone, starting with myself, is to take the to-do list lightly. After the mushroom cloud, no one will remember or care if you ticked that last item off the list. Instead, spend serious time on things that have meaning right now. Like cooking a good meal, drinking a glass of wine, talking (not texting) to a friend. And reading books. Lots of books.

Media adds to the chaos and noise. There’s too much information, too much bullshit, too much chatter, too many memes, too much clickbait, too many ads disguised as editorial.

Books don’t have hyperlinks. Books create space for your mind to breathe. Books tell us how things worked out the last time around Off the top of my head, here are seven books you should read because they’ll help you make sense of right now.

  1. EM Forster – Two Cheers for Democracy
  2. Martha Gellhorn – The Face of War
  3. Earnest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms
  4. Joseph Heller – Catch-22
  5. George Orwell – Homage to Catalonia
  6. Emma Goldman – Essays on Anarchism
  7. Eric Ambler – Uncommon Danger
  8. Wilfred Own – The Collected Poems

Add your suggestions please!

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