“in the changing light of a room” – specks from May Sarton

Vincent's "Bedroom in Arles." Look's pretty cozy to me.

Vincent’s “Bedroom in Arles.” Look’s pretty cozy to me.

Last week I wrote about reading the journals of May Sarton. Have I mentioned that May Sarton had a room in her house called “the cozy room”? I want to live in that room. Until then, I’ll give thanks for my cozy, four-foot stretch of wall and these specks from May Sarton…

First on suffering and creation:

[After quoting from Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu]: “It is only when we can believe that we are creating the soul that life has any meaning, but when we can believe it — and I do and always have — then there is nothing we do that is without meaning and nothing that we suffer that does not hold the seed of creation in it.”

On the person behind the work:

“My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life — all of it — flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity … both as human being and artists, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked.”

May Sarton, housekeeper (somehow it’s very comforting to know that even she — who lived alone, unmarried, no children — fought against housework):

“I could spend the whole day housekeeping, but I won’t, as long as total chaos is kept at bay and what my eyes rest on is beauty and order. Only now and then the appalling state of a cupboard disturbs my mind enough so that it is worth tidying–… .”


(“As long as total chaos is kept at bay…” — I see May and I have at least that in common.)

May Sarton, wanderer:

“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything… .  The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”


Sounds good to me, although today is not that day for me. More likely, this month is not that month. Still, at a minimum, I’ll be looking for a few empty moments to wander about in. I hope you find some, too.

6 thoughts on ““in the changing light of a room” – specks from May Sarton

  1. Molly, I love this whole post and the thoughts of the woman behind it. Perhaps her words and your hope to enjoy a time when you can “let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room, not try to be or do anything” resonated with me because I’ve been, this past week, forced to do nothing but rest because of a herniated disk. At first I was so bored but in pain, I thought this will never end. Second because my hubby was attending a convention out of town, I was lonely and more fearful of the aggravating the condition. But by three days into the ordeal, my mind relaxed, my body began healing and I found myself doing absolutely nothing but reading “Far from the Tree” by Andrew Solomon and listening with my iPad to Taylor Mali on YouTube. What a glorious time it’s been sinking into a life so different from my regular go, go, go…

    Thanks for this and all of your posts. I remain one of your most religious followers.


    • Cylia,

      Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the post. It does take some time, doesn’t it, to *really* unwind into a mode of doing “nothing.” I hope you are healing up well and still enjoying your recovery.


  2. not a criticism; a question: how is her marital and parent status relevant to housework? my thought was: who is immune, no matter one’s family constellation or living arrangement? 🙂 so curious to know why you added those descriptors.

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