Annie Dillard’s “The Abundance”

Annie Dillard stopped writing. An NPR story told me. And as I read The Abundance I wondered what Dillard, the writer who stopped writing, wanted to tell me.

Dillard is among a gifted few who notice things so well, who can describe what she notices too. As I read, I too then noticed (I thought) that I was reading a memoir, a slow unfolding of life story, years unfolding like we unfold tablecloths.

Maybe this is what Dillard was telling me: life is lived when you notice the details. Attend to the moment and play out other moments by describing your experience. Turn it all into flowing story, eager, page-flipping story. But not too eager. While we’re excited by the unfolding cloth, we’re also nudged by Dillard to pay attention. Be excited, but not impatient. Dillard’s kind see things because they wait around that extra moment. Most of us wander away just a second before. Then we hear Dillard yell, “Oh look!” We turn. It’s gone.

Attend, my friend. Attend. Stick around for that extra moment. You’re about to see something.