I loved this recent interview with the prolific, relentlessly curious Ezra Klein (in GQ of all places.) I’ve identified with so much of his perspective as a parent of young children, like how parenthood has transformed his idea of adhering to a daily routine:
It’s been a shift, because what I have now are responsibilities—not just responsibilities, relationships—and the more I understand them, the more I realize they can’t effectively be optimized. They are chaotic systems, so to speak—certainly children are. The question is how I’m able to show up in them, and how I’m able to show up in them knowing that I can’t control the day that comes before it. I’ve been forced out of the illusion of control. I’m much more interested in the question of, what can I do to make it likeliest that I can meet the situations I’m in with a better rather than worse version of myself—and a more present rather than a more distracted form of my attention?
I love this, and I think about it nearly constantly as I juggle creative and professional work and parenthood and rest. Klein’s philosophy reminds me of Oliver Burkeman’s thesis in Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals; essentially, that finitude is all we have, and accepting that fact liberates us from trying to accomplish it all in lieu of turning to the next right thing.
Or in Klein’s words, “I’m just much more interested in the question of a good day than a tightly managed day.”
I could have written Klein’s formula for a good day in my own notebook (and I did, copied from the GQ article).