I arrived at school 30 minutes before my class this morning. I had an errand to run at 7:15am (which never happens), finished early, and just headed in. This meant I closed myself in the ground-floor bathroom for 20 minutes, thinking nothing in particular.
It was excellent.
It seems an especially American obsession/anxiety: to show one values time, one must be doing something productive. As in, capitalistically of value, like work for an employer or purchasing things. Or providing a measurable (or theoretically re-salable) service, such as caring for another human or an environment. (Housekeeping is environment-care, as is laundry.)
By these measures, I have valued my March and April far more highly than I’ve valued my time in a couple of years. Last night I had to sit quietly with my day-planner and thoroughly map out the big chunks of my week. There were chunks that, had I fit them in, I would be calmer in the long run… but they couldn’t be fit. (Sure, I could have written them down there, but I’ve renewed my commitment not to lie to myself.) Doing this exercise is how I discovered I had a 7:15am errand today.
And while I feel a little calmer having drawn myself a map—last week had no map—I nevertheless keep looking at my life and shaking my head. I like to think I’ve stepped away from a productive time mindset. That I know how to treasure time that has no object in mind, time transformed into open space. Yet here I am, having surveyed the options available to me and greedily said yes to all the ones that appealed, while continuing to honor the commitments I’d made before.
Mind you, it’s not that I’ve reached the place where I can’t accomplish what I said. (Well, maybe I have.) It’s more that…
*I’ve been away from my home congregation twice as many days as I’ve been with them. *I totted up the days, and I spent six days on the Grand Rapids trip, nearly a week. *I’ve had one un-booked Saturday since the beginning of March. *My dad called to ask me a question, and it took four days for me to return the call.
There have been plenty of flexible days where I flop around as if the time is two sizes too large. I don’t want myself to forget how I would repeatedly scan social media, since there were no sharp consequences for choosing that over projects that would reward heart, mind, and soul more effectively. It really is like eating boxes and boxes of marshmallow Peeps; sure, as an adult there’s no one to stop me, but I still feel unpleasantly sticky afterwards.
I’m currently scanning my operating environment to figure out where the fulcrum is, and where I shall pare. I’m keeping in mind, too, that in two weeks my seminary classes will close for the term, With no June classes in the works, by the second week of May my activities will have drained out as quickly as they filled this bathtub, and I may be flopping again-!
I can safely say, though, that I’m going to shoot for at least one unbooked Saturday a month. Seriously.