I only wish I had something deep to say about the famous title, whether the work by Tolstoy or Chernychevsky, but it is phrase that crosses everyone's lips often in the course of our daily lives. Somewhere in the Confucian Analects there occurs the phrase ‘attend to your affairs’. I find this a wonderfully instructive maxim for seniors, as it reminds me to focus on what needs focusing on each day. In fact I have posted a foreshortened version of it on our living room wall in it’s own frame.
There is always something to do; that goes without saying. It does not mean that you have to go at it 24/7 until everything is done. What it does mean is to hold in your mind what does need to be done, while dealing with the inevitable distractions or rest breaks that find their own place in our day.
My Oxford Dictionary of English ,not the venerable OED to be sure, but a nifty little tome (with etymologies!) that came with my Kindle, describes it thusly: to deal with; give practical help and care to; look after; pay attention to. From the Middle English by way of Old French atendre, ultimately from the Latin atendere, tendere meaning to stretch. I read this to be a far politer version of what we used to say to lazy sobs, ‘stretch a little, why don’t ya.’
On a day to day basis we’re dealing here with the intersection between Zen and Confucianism; everyday zen in all of it’s banality. Attend fully to the raking of the fall leaves all over your grass. Confucius even said something about the playing of leisure board games was at least better than doing nothing, but that the exemplary man attends to his affairs. As I get older still, even the simplest things can sometimes pose a challenge, so I go around the house most mornings muttering to myself,
“Attend, attend, attend.”
And that includes contacting state representatives in January about the GMO labelling bill coming up for consideration. So much to keep in mind.