Log in

No account? Create an account

Good reasons to burn the candle at both ends

Hard to believe it's only Wednesday. Working hard to get and stay up-to-speed, which seems like quite a challenge. The re-addition of communitygroup into our weekly routines contributes to the feeling, but honestly, if it weren't that, it'd be something else, so it might as well be something that matters, right?

The projects also get me: this week it's finalizing catering for our Celebrating Grace dinner on 11 October and finalizing the quarterly Sunday volunteer schedule for October-December. At least "finalizing" is in both of those descriptions—you can tell I'm hopeful. There's also some serious proofreading and formatting required for our Introduction to Grace Seattle materials (which starts on 16 October), support items to provide for our Women's Retreat in November, and meetings next week with the Diaconate and with the landlords for the church building we use on Sundays for which to prepare. I really like what I'm doing; it just helps to realize that the reason I feel busy is because I am.


Burn the Candle at Both Ends... and Don't Take it Seriously

Burn the candle at both ends


To live at a hectic pace.


Our current understanding of this phrase refers to a life that is lived frenetically and unsustainably - working or enjoying oneself late into the night only to begin again early the next day. It didn't having that meaning when it was first coined in the 18th century. The both ends then weren't the ends of the day but were a literal reference to both ends of a candle. Candles were useful and valuable (see not worth the candle) and the notion of waste suggested by lighting both ends at once implied reckless waste. This thought may well have been accentuated by the fact that candles may only be lit at both ends when held horizontally, which would cause them to drip and burn out quickly.

Nathan Bailey defined the term in his Dictionarium Britannicum, 1730, by which time the phrase had already been given a figurative interpretation and the 'two ends' were a husband and wife:

"The Candle burns at both Ends. Said when Husband and Wife are both Spendthrifts."

Like not worth the candle, the phrase derives from an earlier French version. Randle Cotgrave recorded it in A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, 1611:

'Brusler la chandelle par les deux bouts'. [To burn the candle by the two ends]

See also, hold a candle.

Sorry, that was totally random. I am such a history geek.