Guest Post: Quivering with Life, or Making a Fatal Blunder?

tree and lake

Photo and Guest Post by Debbie Broderick

A Special Treat for You This Week:

Friend and writer and blog reader, Debbie Broderick, sent in this lovely non-fiction piece describing the natural life she observes around her bucolic, lakefront property and how we might reconsider our “busy-ness” in our daily lives. You will enjoy her precise, descriptive prose and feel you are right there watching all the creatures in their habitat.

Thank you again for following/supporting A Good Life In Crazy Times!


Quivering with Life, or Making a Fatal Blunder?

by Debbie Broderick

I have just spent what turned out to be my entire morning (after my requisite cup of coffee), at the water’s edge on an Adirondack chair with my feet in the lake. As an outsider looking in, it seemed as if there was peace and serenity all around me. That’s because I wasn’t part of the hubbub, I guess. But the longer I sat, the more I saw that what played out in front of me was a furious, ongoing battle to continue existing, and it was busy!

Black Ducks swam back and forth, using a log as a gathering- and drying- spot, in between ‘bottoms-upping’ in the water, and snapping at insects on the underside of Pickerelweed leaves. The surface of the water was alive with the perturbations of swarming Water Striders, and Dock Spiders patrolled the lilypads. I watched a grasshopper emerge, painfully slowly, from its exoskeleton, to rest vulnerably in the open as it recovered from its arduous task, not able to contemplate its future for actively living.

Here in front of me was a busy life – but it was the busy-ness of being and staying alive, where the meaning and purpose is simply to live, in its purest sense. Not to be driven to plan for another time, a common mistake we humans make, but to actively live in the now. I’m reminded of Thoreau’s insightful quote:

There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. 

To be truly alive is to quiver with the gravity of what it means to breathe and live. But for us, in our hectic, money-driven world, we’ve lost sight of the fact that we’re ‘living’ by carrying out someone else’s directives and vision, not our own, for a future we may, or may not, have. Perhaps now, with our futures threatened by a pandemic, is our time to take cognizance of this humble reminder that life and a future is not a ‘given’, that life is ours to savor while we have it, that the pulse of the here and now is what is important. Like the insects and birds around us, we can ‘celebrate’ by appreciating that we haven’t been eaten or conquered, by appreciating what IS, by living purposefully and vitally, and savoring moments.

woman in canoe with foliage backdrop

A native of South Africa, Debbie Broderick moved to the United States as a young wife and mother. She blogs about nature, feminism, motherhood, and memories of her childhood and early adulthood in Durban, SA on her website

1 comment

  1. Just reread this and was zipped away to a lovely, natural world so far from the busy San Diego traffic outside my window at midday. Debbie is an awesome writer and member of my writing group whose way with words delights those of us lucky enough to hear/read her pieces. Just wonderful.

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