double-edged expanse

I brushed my teeth at 10am today.

I arose from bed at 7:30am. So there was time to (in not-their-order): read all the parts of the newspaper I cared to; have breakfast; fold and put away the towels; consider the rose-petals floating in a bowl on the coffee table and decide they could become potpourri instead.

After a time-controlled semester, my days have been steadily loosening… and somehow today felt like the first expansively unscheduled day. Which in point of fact it is not; I meet with my boss this afternoon to discuss my summer job’s responsibilities and priorities. And I have a raveled swatch of school responsibilities left to mend — most of which must be tied up this week.

Still, there’s a flavor to my time that I’m savoring this morning.
And a bitter aftertaste that worries me with its familiarity.


Last Friday my bunco group reconvened for the first time in sixteen months. This connects because as we carpooled home (my neighbor-friend and I) we talked about retirement, and the ways her spouse would have clear projects… but not necessarily pursue them. At least in the ways she’d been accustomed to him doing pre-retirement, if I’m reading between her lines well. I told her I sympathize with him. It’s more difficult than it seems to sustain effort when you can’t tell whether the work you’re doing matters to the world. I know; I’ve struggled with this in the past; I may be about to struggle with it again.


I’ve finished my MDiv now in all the practical ways, so that structure is completed. And its scaffold is no longer available.
I’d been assuming I’d launch into a PhD in Fall 2021, but for an array of reasons that culminated in my having no clue last November where I wanted to apply (those apps are due in Dec/Jan), I won’t be.
Over the winter, I flung my heart into testing whether I’m called to congregational shepherding via a pastoral residency — a nicely time-boxed way to better discern something I have to live my way into and through, I thought. They almost thought so, too, but not completely,
and by mid-March I had no more post-MDiv runways to taxi down.
I’m weary, I said. I’ll figure it out after I finish this up, I said.


I continue to feel flattened by the ridiculous privilege I carry. I don’t have to do anything in particular; why burn time on petty or trivial things? Yet holding still in the hope that Worthy Things arrive is the opposite of a strategy for thriving. There’s flailing, which I dislike but has the merit of try-and-see about it. There’s also ‘doing the things on the list,’ which isn’t trivial per se but is a certain sort of ephemeral. I have a lot of this available right now, even more now that I will have an employee’s spur of work-deadlines. It’s so terribly tempting! I fear it.


Now that my hands are brimming with this expansive time, now that I can let time dribble through my fingers into my own words, I’m remembering that — in addition to my improvised scaffolds of summer job and particular meetings with professors — I picked up a knife-roll of a toolkit last year, Jennifer Louden’s Why Bother book and workbook. And I continue to have My Sweetie’s hovering curiosity about what’s next in his life as an MDiv’s spouse.

I love unmeasured time. And also: I thrive when I have constraints.
It’s looking like, for now, I’ve sheathed the damaging edge of my expansive time… it’s time for me to find out how I wield the exhilarating edge. For the next few months, anyway!

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