September 11th, 2007


Just thinkin...

This morning I gave myself an instrumental playlist -- some Hawaiin slack key guitar, a couple of pieces from the Il Postino soundtrack, and a little jazz.

I wanted to be able to properly curse the ragweed while I ran, without lyrics getting in my way. But lo and behold, last night's rain dampened the ragweed. Sneezes were few and far between, and curses were not necessary. So instead, I thought about stuff.

Like: it's that time of year again. And I don't mean ragweed season, though that's significant, to be sure. I mean, the wild ramp-up from the lazy-hazy days of summer to that time in midwinter when nobody can stop to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with anyone else because we're all too freakin' busy, and the kids' events and programs, which we (ahem) signed 'em up for, have taken over our lives, and we're binging on vitamins, minerals and caffeine when really all we need are a nap, a bath and a good game of cards. Y'know? That time of year.

So here's the thing. I'm not doing it this year. No, I really mean it. This summer I turned down a nice job offer, and doing so reminded me that we really do have a say in how we spend our days. And that over-committing is a choice (albeit a lousy one). And that sometimes what our kids really need, even more than learning to walk tightropes or becoming tri-lingual or trying out for the Olympics, is space. Space and time. And I'm pretty sure that's what we really need, too. 

It's like a knee joint, right? What a clever machine, but if the cartilage pops or gets all worn down, it's gonna be bone-on-bone and that ain't pretty. (Sorry for the clumsy analogy, but remember, I was running when I was sorting all this out so it seems apt.)

Now friends, what's the magic answer, other than knee surgery? How do you stay productive (like, I've got four manuscripts that deserve my attention, and a husband, a couple of daughters and three pets who'd all like a piece of me, too) and at the same time, stay breathing and balanced? How do you know when to say yes and when to say no? How can you be sure to get enough sleep? How do you build enough time for day-dreaming into your writing life? And what about the naps, the baths and the good games of cards?

There was a poet once who said something about time being "the coin of your life." I'd like to become even more mindful of how I'm spending mine. How about you?