Living in your days

Cloudy blue sky

What makes a life? The concept of days being where we live is introduced by way of a Philip Larkin poem in Yiyun Li’s “Where Reasons End,” a deeply affecting novel featuring an imagined ongoing conversation between a mother and her son who has died. 

What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us.

Time and time over. 

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?

How often do we think about each thing we do on any random day, and consider that each moment culminates in a grander portrait of our life? Medical appointments, dog walks, trips to the grocery store… as I run through a quick personal inventory, I realize that whether it’s in an office hidden away from the main public space, or staffing a service desk, the majority of my days’ minutes occur at the library. And, what of the moments outside of work? Even when I venture elsewhere, I find that I am pulled to places similar to this place, which is a space of work, contemplation, creativity and refuge. 

When you start thinking about what makes up your daily routine, what do you find it looks like? It can be somewhat jarring to contemplate that the minutiae of every day make up the magnitude of our existence.

Toward the end of “Where Reasons End,” the mother returns to this thought, “What do you do all day?” Nikolai, the son, tries to deflect the question, but his mom persists, “If days are where we live, I will always want to know how people live in their days.”

As a long-time library employee, I’ve come to count on seeing dozens of patrons who come in on a nearly daily basis. The library is an essential part of their routine. They come to the library to use the computers, attend programs, pick up a crossword puzzle, or just stop by to say hello. I may not be privy to the bigger picture of each individual’s narrative, but I am certain that our interactions, no matter how small they may seem, make the days we live in all the richer.

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