On Happiness: Save nothing up

image Annie Dillard wrote a classic book on the experience of being a writer, called The Writing Life.

In it she shares some wonderful wisdom that might be equally applicable to living ‘The Happy Life’:

Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now… Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water… Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Although Dillard is talking about writing, I think her notion of holding nothing back applies to happiness too.

If we wait for something – a relationship, job, opportunity, situation – before we express our best self, or do what we love, or choose to be happy, then we might be wasting who we are now. We don’t have to save up our happiness till the circumstances are just right. We’ll be different people later, and the resources we’ll draw on then will have been replenished ‘from beneath’, by the intervening time, thought and experiences.

Perhaps Dillard’s advice can free us to trust that ‘something more’ will be there for tomorrow, and to let today be as happy as we can make it.

Perhaps her words can inspire us to choose happiness right now, and spare ourselves a safe filled with ashes.

Leave a Reply