Friday, August 10, 2007

Daily Duties

I grew up alongside my parents' science fiction and fantasy library. One of our favorite authors was Orson Scott Card, whose book Ender's Game joined the ranks of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings as required family reading. Finding others who had read that book was like meeting members of a secret club who spoke our own language.

As an adult, I have tried to steer myself more in the direction of nonfiction, telling myself that it is somehow loftier, more valuable, a better use of my time. But I've recently felt a craving for the good old science fiction and fantasy again, and so I went to my handy-dandy public library and brought home a bag-full. I just finished the first one tonight: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. The hero of this story, Cazaril, discovers that the gods have chosen him to perform an important task, but he doesn't know exactly what that task is or how to go about doing it. A man much older and wiser than he, who has been trying to serve the gods for many years, gives him some great advice in this exchange:

"That the goddess has set your feet on some journey on her abundantly plain..."
"But what am I supposed to be doing?"
"Speaking just from my own experience, I would surmise--your daily duties as they come to you."
"That's not very helpful."
"Yes, I know. So the gods humble the would-be wise, I think."

Do your daily duties as they come to you. I like that. By the way, that is what he does, and it all works out in the end. His path unfolds as time progresses. He never sees the big picture, he just does what needs to be done each day, and a miracle is worked through him in the process. This reminds me of the words to the hymn "Lead Kindly Light":

"I do not ask to see the distant scene--one step enough for me."

I am always wanting to see the distant scene...I want my life laid out before me, the whole plan, so that I can make decisions accordingly. I would rather figure out to occupy my time as an empty-nester (at least 17 years from now) than wash the breakfast dishes. But I believe this is misguided. I want to learn to do my daily duties as they come to me, instead of avoiding them as I dream about the future. I think I will find much more power to do good by focusing on one day at a time: today.


marizasmom said...

I loved this thought. And I love that we speak the same O. Scott Card language. (You know I am an absolute junkie of anything he has written, right?)

I've been reading some sci/fi too. I just couldn't finish Farenheit 451 after having moved and feeling so disconnected from people. But I loved Harry Potter. Hard to believe she could create such a compelling story for the 7th time.

I miss you!

aussiegirl said...

Well said, Andrea. And thanks for this post. It was a good reminder to take things one day at a time.

Janie said...

So true, thanks for sharing that thought, Andrea. It's nice to think all the mudane tasks of life have a grander purpose.
I loved Ender's Game too.

Anonymous said...

Seth, with no blogger account...
I am surprised that we never talked science fiction/fantasy together! I didn't grow up with Ender, LOTR, or Narnia, but discovered them in college. I love these works a great deal.

I do a great deal of reading non-fiction (my choice of education and career ensured that) but life would be somewhat intolerable without fiction. As for non-fiction being "loftier, more valuable, a better use of my time"... I have read a great deal of fiction far more loftier, ennobling, educational, inspiring, and __fill in adjective of good report here__ than many non-fiction works.

Ok, I will get off my "science fiction and fantasy can be great literature" soapbox now. :-D

I miss you guys!

P.S. A little Ender humor.

Rebecca said...

Did you know that while I was reading Ender's Game for a BYU-I fiction course, Seth borrowed my copy and not only finished it way before me, but he also voluntarily took the test and got a higher score than I did! (Which, by the way, I guess is pretty easy to do considering I still haven't finished reading the book-- blasphemy, I know.) On top of that, he then incorporated it into a paper he was writing for a history class's midterm. How he found a connection between Ender's Game and "US History Since 1945" I'll never know!! (without reading the midterm of course. . . . Really he's just brilliant!)

After reading this and some of your other posts, I was thinking, I wish I had a digital frame on my wall that displayed all the enlightening concepts that Andrea brings up on her blog. How nice would that be? You're making me want to blog, too, Girl. It's weird to not have a blog. Shortly after the internet came out, I had my own website. I'm now on my third website, but do I have a blog even though they've been going for a couple years now? No. A large part of that, really, is because I decided I needed to write in my journal more before I could keep a blog. However, what I'm realizing now is that a journal affects you in the now and then the generations after you who have access to the journal (and actually take the time to read it). A blog affects you in the now and your peers who read it. Which would have a quicker effect on the world around us. Um, probably a blog.... But, in defense of the journal, is the blog going to be around even 50 years from now? With the way technology changes, possibly yes and possibly no. The question of one's own blog being around depends on what steps one has taken to preserve it. I guess I'm glad I married a man who is now an electronic records archivist, eh? My prospects there are pretty good, assuming we actually take the time to carry out at home what he does every day at work!

Anyway, we miss you guys so much. Do check out our online world sometime: Sure, it's not a blog, but it's still us! And, as a final note, thanks for the encouragement to pick up some fantasy now and then. I think I've been going through the same experience with it has you had been. Definitely time to break out, huh. . . . (At least I read Harry Potter! The house probably took two weeks to recover from that, though! How do you make time to read??? Especially with THREE kids?)

Potato Girl said...

Rebecca: If you have ever been to my house, you know that I have time to read because I don't really keep my house clean. I also take a nap every day during Esther's nap, and then stay up late at night. I'm not recommending either of these habits, but that is how I find the time.