A long time in coming

I’m reading Oliver Burkeman’s outstanding book 4000 Weeks: Time and How to Use It. It’s a long time in coming – both in terms of his journey to writing it and my waiting for the right time to sit with its pages.

And I’m not disappointed. It is beautifully written and full of both resonance and healthy dissonance.

Oliver put into words things that I’ve been grappling with for some time. He also provokes my thinking and invites me to see what it’s all about from a different angle.

We don’t have time; we are time. And that time is finite.

This makes a difference to our sense of the present because we control neither our entry nor our exit. We can’t go back, and we don’t command the future.

In that sense, our whole life is a threshold of thresholds, where we make fresh choices each day. Therefore, in this space, our choices about where to give our attention have consequences.

And the bigger context?

It’s simply incredible that we are here at all.

A mirror for our days

John O’Donohue wrote a wise blessing for the end of the day. He probes our inner and outer worlds and enables us to land, at last, with the biggest question: why was I given this day?


What dreams did I create last night?
Where did my eyes linger today?
Where was I blind?
Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?
What did I learn today?
What did I read?
What new thoughts visited me?
What differences did I notice in those closest to me?
Who did I neglect?
Where did I neglect myself?
What did I begin today that might endure?
How were my conversations?
What did I do today for the poor and the excluded?
Did I remember the dead today?
Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?
Where did I allow myself to receive love?
With whom today did I feel most myself?
What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?
Who saw me today?
What visitations had I from the past and from the future?
What did I avoid today?
From the evidence – why was I given this day?

+ John O’Donohue from Benedictus: a Book of Blessings, Bantam Press 2007


This week

For many of us, this crossover from August to September is often a significant threshold. The end of summer holidays and the start of a new academic year, or the countdown to Christmas and the year-end.