On the desk are four objects and three pages trying to teach me things I struggle to learn. I'm slow and stubborn but keep going. One hopes I'll get there eventually. Where? I'm not sure, but I seem headed toward something.
The first two objects are library books, (Frederic Gros's A Philosophy Of Walking and Wendell Berry's The World Ending Fire. Both are good though neither has me glued to the pages. I want to keep reading but also have the cursed urge to finish them. This pushes me to think past the books and miss out on the experience of reading them. It's just that there are so many other books I want to read. The trouble is, no matter how much I might wish otherwise, I can't finish either book in the next hour. At best (or worst), I'll finish both this week. Four more library books wait on the shelf and at least one will likely be due before I get to it. Opportunity lost! Or something like that.
The next object is a composition book that has failed me as a writers notebook. I used to use these all the time, but the paper is terrible and the covers are made too thin. They are still inexpensive but have grown cheap. I'd retire it but forty blank pages remain and I'm unwilling to waste them. It's not that I'm stuck with the notebook so much as sticking with it to the end which won't come for weeks.
The fourth object is a Uniball Jetstream ballpoint pen. I have a box of them but don't especially enjoy them, but can't stand wasting them. I doubt I'll go through the whole box any time soon, but I've committed to writing this one pen dry. I'm curious how long such a pen lasts but mostly trying to teach myself that I can finish most anything if I keep going. I started the pen with yesterday's morning pages and have written most everything with it. I'll likely be a couple weeks writing it dry. Sigh.
All of this not finishing is discouraging. I want to be done and get where I'm going. These objects are trying to teach me the mistake of such thinking but it's the three pages of paper that are my best teachers. They are this morning's pages, ninety-three lines written in about forty minutes and kept on my desk as a reminder to write this idea, roughed out in them, that some things can't be dispatched in only a few minutes, hours, or even days. But those pages one, two, three aren't the real lesson for me. The lesson is that they aren't pages one, two and three but are instead pages 5,362 through 5,364 since I began this daily practice in 2014.
I began with the idea to write three pages that morning. That's all I could control then. The rest had to wait for the next morning and the next. Had I begun hoping only to reach page 5,364, that would have been foolish and weird. I still have no end number in mind. I let 5,000 pages pass without much notice and will likely do the same at 10,000. If I go twenty years, I'll fill 21,918 pages. At thirty years, it will be 32,877 pages in all. But there's no gain in aiming for those things. It's the process of doing that matters. Just keep going.
I'll finish my books, fill the notebook, write the pen dry. Then there will be more books to read, another notebook to fill, and always more ink. None of it will get done today. I'll have to live with that. Maybe I'll learn from it too.