The writer’s biography, in summary: a strenuous pursuit, lasting several decades, of the Right Word, which got away.
What is shocking is not that we should occasionally think we’re wasting our time but that we should ever think we aren’t. For in the end what else can be done with time but to waste it? If we’re not wasting it in one way, which our own insistent self-reproach spotlights, we’re wasting it in another which, at least for now, under the spell of some gratifying misperception, we laxly characterize as profitable. Yet in retrospect all of our enthusiasms and all of our devotions are revealed as void or illusionary, while the hopes which upheld our efforts in the prosecution of this or that enterprise are inevitably exposed as vain.