C.S. Lewis’s Ideal Day and (y)ours?
These unusual weeks of working from home make you think: How did other people—before us—do it? I was thinking about C.S.Lewis as his book Surprised by Joy was laying around in our living room, and someone mentioned his description of his Ideal Day during a conversation at the table.
In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis tells us the story of how he passed from Atheism to Christianity. (Read the whole book and order it here, if you like)
I grabbed the little booklet, read it again and wanted to share this part here:
C.S. Lewis writes:
“I settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a “normal” day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table…
I am the sort of person who likes to visualize it. His sheet would look like this;
9.00–13.00 Read, write, study
11.00 A cup of tea. (Please bring it, and don’t disturb me)
13.00 Lunch, (preferably served.)
14.00 Hit the road for a walk -alone-
17.00–19.00 A man (and woman;-) should be at work again.
23.00 There is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven.
By two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one … who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.
And these words are what he wrote at this desk:
Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere.
At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies (and at Bookham I had none) there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven.
So, Lewis has his daily walks, think time, writing time, and meals served in his Ideal Day (Don’t we all?)—no shopping, cleaning, house chores, teaching children, fixing leaking taps, or diaper changing.)
C.S. Lewis Ideal Day in perspective
I just found it very fascinating to read about this. When I googled: Lewis, Ideal Day. I stumbled upon such an interesting blog post that I nearly gave up writing this one because I found it so very well done. What I missed in this post, though, is Lewis’s very own conclusion of this chapter:
Such is my ideal day, and such than (almost) was the reality, of ” settled, calm Epicurean life.” It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish.
In these lines, Lewis put his own Ideal Day into perspective. I like that very much. He was not a selfish person. We know he thought about others, seeing the letters he wrote and the impact he has on so many millions of people after his death—another very good reason to be writing.
My Ideal Day:
That brings me to my very own Ideal Daily Routine. I came up with a word that covers all life domains that you find in a Rule for Life. In my Ideal Day, there is time for everything: I used the word DOMAINS to cover all life domains and give daily attention to all of them:
Dei – Time with God, solid foundation
Organise your work/plan /make a list
Must do/Do it /no excuse
Affect others – Relationships/ hang out with friends/family
In the body – Stay healthy, food/sport
Nature – See beauty, listen to music, nourish your artistic soul
Sabbath – Rest and start again all in good time to bring everything to a closure at the end.
But, what works for me, does not have to work for you.
# Challenge: How would you describe your Ideal Day? Please, let me know by e-mail, or just below. Let’s learn from each other these day’s when we are all struggling probably with this unusual situation. A Pandemia and underlying, anxiety, feeling all over the place, living under a black cloud. Trying to trust our Lord, nevertheless.
Warm greetings, Janneke