Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I have a recurring nightmare about driving off a bridge in my car. Sometimes I'm driving, sometimes someone else is, but always we crash into water and sink and I have to figure out how to get myself and everyone else out of the car as it fills up with water. About a week ago, I had this dream and woke up screaming and gasping for air. Someone told me that it probably indicates that I feel like something in my life is out of my control.

But the truth is that lots of things in life are out of our control. And we waste time worrying about things that are either statistically improbable or generally unavoidable. And even though I am as guilty as anyone about thinking through worst-case scenarios or worrying needlessly about small details, it is obvious that our energy would be better spent on other things.

Which made me think of this poem by Jorge Luis Borges, which I have hanging over my desk. Reading, gardening, playing chess, being generous. These are all things we can control.

A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.
He who is grateful for the existence of music.
He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.
Two workmen playing, in a cafe in the South, a silent game of chess.
The potter, contemplating a color and a form.
The typographer who sets this page well though it may not please him.
A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.
He who strokes a sleeping animal.
He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him.
He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.
He who prefers others to be right.
These people, unaware, are saving the world.

(translated by Alastair Reid)


  1. I'm a bit misty. ...reminds me of living in Nevada and everything it embodies for me.

  2. Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!