I read this article on Yahoo the other day. Though there is a lot of strangeness in it– not least the whole idea of Billionaire hunters (is that even a real occupation?) —there was one sentence that caught my attention.
Elaine Tettemer Marshall is not the kind of woman given to dancing on tables, buying Hawaiian islands or throwing her underwear out of cars. Both before and after the 2006 death of her husband, E. Pierce Marshall, she apparently has led a circumspect and quiet life. (emphasis mine)
A circumspect and quiet life. Circumspect isn’t a part of the current vernacular; it’s very King James-esque- like a title to a novel set in the Victorian era. It means to be prudent, cautious, and discreet– one who considers the consequences of her actions.
There’s something about this kind of life that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s elusive and shimmery as a mirage. I can see why the author seems downright surprised, maybe even a bit indignant, that Mrs. Marshall chose to live quietly and circumspectly. Given her inordinately large fortune and crazy relations, one would think her name would be on the lips of every socialite and gossip blog. Which is probably more of a social commentary than anything else: people don’t live that way anymore. At least they don’t seem to.
This is the age of YOLO, do what feels good to you, and above all, personal happiness at the expense of everything else. A couple of years ago, I laughed out loud when I read this article in the Onion about Lance Armstrong. But it wasn’t all that amusing this past week when Nike and other sponsors dropped him following the USADA’s report detailing his extensive doping during the Tour de France. Am I the only one who winces when reading that report?
Living circumspectly seems to have gone by the wayside just as the word has gone out of everyday usage. Yet there was something decidedly different about the way Mrs. Marshall chose to live her life. I’ve never met her and know nothing about her other than what I read in this article, so I can only surmise that perhaps she thought the way one went about this life mattered.
The more I think about this, the more I am reminded of Ephesians 5:15-16:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
There’s that word again: circumspectly. And, once again, the idea that how I go about this life, how I “redeem” the time given to me, matters
I was discussing this concept with my Hawaii BFF this weekend. “Do you ever feel like you are wasting your life?” she asked. The truth is that yes, sometimes I feel that way. There are days when I can’t tell you of a single thing that I did that mattered to anyone, I waste untold hours on tumblr and pinterest, I avoid calling the people I love most, and I often spend my time engaged in the most trivial of pursuits– circumspect is not the word that comes to mind.
I once posted this quote by William James in my office:
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It Does.
It was a good reminder for me to be more intentional in my day-to-day dealings. To think more before speaking or acting and, perhaps most importantly, to not indiscriminately kill hours or whole days with idleness. Because who knows how many you have remaining.