David’s been talking about some of the patients he sees and how the ailments they come in with so clearly reflect how they live their lives.
I think it’s easy to see that those who choose a violent path stand a greater chance of dying a violent death. Live by the sword, die by the sword. It’s a simple matter of percentages. But I think it’s less easy to see that, if we choose to spend our lives in service of our children, then that’s how our lives will look in the end. If we choose not to accept responsibility, then we’ll have no control over anything. My stepdad Dave loves order – thus he’s been in the military and prioritizes creating order.
It’s that aspect of choosing that’s most important. Stepdad Dave doesn’t spend every minute of every day making lists and planning for the future. It’s just his priority. It’s what creates the foundation under everything else. And it’s characteristic of him – enough that we all tease him about his lists.
Kristen Lippert-Martin mentioned on her blog that Virginia Woolf wrote only one hour every day. Not all that much time, out of her 24. And yet, we think of her as a writer. The quintessential writer, for many. That’s because being a writer shaped her life, more than anything else. She made all her choices around that idea and it became her salient characteristic.
I think that’s the key: what we choose to live by is what defines us. The warrior who chooses to live by the sword might retire from the field between wars, but she remains a warrior in her thoughts and actions.
We spend a lot of our lives with things being chosen for us: our families, where we live, our friends, often our professions. In the hustle of day to day, we tend to fall into what other people declare is most important. And we often have to abide by that: children must be fed, paying bosses must receive deliverables. Still, those things don’t have to define us.
Even if we spend only an hour a day writing, we are writers by definition, if we choose that way of life.
Live by the word, die by the word.