How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. ~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851
I think of this, at the end of a day. I feel the fuzz of tiredness behind my eyes. I think of my day: a chance to watch a football game, the laughter of my daughter, a drive with my wife. My brother called, twice.
I think of the desire to write. Or, for others, the desire simply to create. We create the most when we stand up to live. This does not always mean experiencing more, but always means seeing more. It means seeing the mystery in my daughter’s laugh, and the thrill of it. It means wondering at my cat as he runs back and forth in the house, meowing with abandon. It means noticing what I eat, or the silliness of commercials, or how my body feels as it settles into the couch.
Creating, whether writing or painting or gardening, is about noticing. This is part of what Thoreau meant when he wrote that we must stand up and live. Noticing, whether at Walden Pond or in Aurora, Colorado, brings with it deliberation. When I notice the pleasures and see the trials as opportunities, I live deliberately.
So, I write tonight, even for a moment. I write so that I will notice, and I write because I notice.
May you as well, in your creative endeavor, stand up to live. May you have long talks on the porch and great dinners and hear your daughter laugh today. May this living vivify your prayers, your thoughts, your creativity. May you learn from a man who wrote in his journal over 150 years ago, yet his life and thoughts were so powerful, are so powerful, that we remember them today.