Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable but positive hindrances to our progress. Our life is frittered away by detail. I say let your affairs be as two or three, not a hundred or a thousand. And keep your accounts on your thumb nail.
Henry David Thoreau
I think chemistry is being frittered away by the hairsplitting of the organic chemists; we have new compounds discovered, which scarcely differ from the known ones and when discovered are valueless-very illustrations perhaps of their refinements in analysis, but very little aiding the progress of true science.
Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail.
Henry David Thoreau
Guilt isn't in cat vocabulary. They never suffer remorse for eating too much, sleeping too long or hogging the warmest cushion in the house. They welcome every pleasurable moment as it unravels and savour it to the full until a butterfly or falling leaf diverts their attention. They don't waste energy counting the number of calories they've consumed or the hours they've frittered away sunbathing. Cats don't beat themselves up about not working hard enough. They don't get up and go, they sit down and stay. For them, lethargy is an art form. From their vantage points on top of fences and window ledges, they see the treadmills of human obligations for what they are - a meaningless waste of nap time.
The unfailing rhythm of the seasons, the ever-turning wheel of life, the four facets of the earth which are lit in turn by the sun, the passing of life-all these filled me once more with a feeling of oppression. Once more there sounded within me, together with the cranes' cry, the terrible warning that there is only one life for all men, that there is no other, and that all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed here. In eternity no other chance will be given to us. A mind hearing this pitiless warning-a warning which, at the same time, is so compassionate-would decide to conquer its weakness and meanness, its laziness and vain hopes and cling with all its power to every second which flies away forever. Great examples come to your mind and you see clearly that you are a lost soul, your life is being frittered away on petty pleasures and pains and trifling talk. "Shame! Shame!" you cry, and bite your lips.
But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle of family and continuity? What if you step out? Where do you sit at the reunion? How do you mark time's passage without the fear that you've just frittered away your time on earth without being relevant? You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being. I love children, but what if I don't have any? What kind of person does that make me? Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where "all is correct." But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course." Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.