When I was 25, I loved summer. I have been a teacher my entire adult life and summers used to be days and days of endless anything. In summer I could read a book every day, and I did. In summer I could get up when I wished, sleep when I wished, eat when I wished. The clock had no command over me. Wanna play frisbee? Yes. Wanna go to a movie? Yes. Wanna make a pie? Yes. Wanna go to the beach? Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Twenty plus years later, I am still a teacher. My life is still run by bells that ring every 45 minutes most of the year. Summers are jammed with consulting jobs. The rest of the time is run by my children. There is car pool and practice and making dinner and homework. I have very little time of my own, and I tend to cram it as tightly as my every day. Weekends are laundry and going to the gym, groceries, haircuts, drinks with friends, cleaning the house, errands.
Go. Go. Go.But lately I have been talking with friends about the consequences of such a life. I am on spring break now with ten days to structure as I will. I am filling six of them with a nonstop trip to New York with my family, but these first four days were mine to use, and I was thinking I have wasted them. And as I reflected on that, I realized I have wasted nothing. You see I have done things, but far more slowly. I worked out an hour or so every day, got a haircut, and attended a surprise birthday party. I have run those errands and bought groceries. I had a leisurely meal with friends, caught up on a little television, spent some quality time with my children, and slept long uninterrupted hours.
Right now I am thinking about this post, waiting for the laundry to dry, and watching my son solve his Rubic’s cube. I could grind my teeth over the deluge that has made today’s ride delayed at best and probably impossible, or I can enjoy the hour returned to me for sipping coffee in my pajamas and thinking.This morning I was texting with triBE teammate Donna Walker. She’s a single mother of two teenagers, teaches an overload of classes at my school, and directs several plays a year in our theatre department. I texted her to see if she had gotten up yet, not because I think she should get up, but because I think she should stop worrying about the fact that sometimes she doesn’t seem to be able to get up. When I think about her life, I think the healthiest thing in the world is sometimes not getting up. Perhaps what makes her so amazing in her every day are the few days she allows herself to just do a little nothing.
Last night I was talking to my friend Cyndi Parrish. She’s been homeschooling her youngest for years and this spring he was ready to go back to school. She was lamenting the long hours alone at home and wondering how to fill her days. I think she’s wondering who she should be now. It’s a real dilemma, one that she’ll likely struggle with a while. That feeling of limbo is uncomfortable, but she’ll know when she knows, and I’m sure she will wake up at some point with her days again filled with entirely too much. And when she does, she'll be awesome, just as she's always been.I know we can beat ourselves about wasted time, but I truly think the only time we waste is the time we spend worrying about wasting time. Today a cup of coffee and my youngest son are within an arm’s reach. I am deeply content. Outside the window the rain falls, the wind blows, and the overcast sky makes me a little sleepy. Perhaps I’ll trade that missed ride for a nap. After all, I’m still in my pajamas.
There’s never enough time for all the nothing you want. ~Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson