Here it is --a quiet Monday, and I'm not at work.
In case you are wondering, I work in the public schools and it is summer vacation. For those of you reading who may not be aware what educators actually do, you may be thinking, "Lazy. Why don't you get a REAL job? And why do you get paid so much when you don't have to work summers like the rest of us?"
I earn every single moment of my summers (and incidentally, I only get paid for 9 months worth of work, thank you very much --they just spread it out over 12 months for me). During the school year, I usually work six days a week. It is not unheard of to spend 12 or more hours a day at work during the work week. During that time, I am responsible for all kinds of things I won't describe here, but I've talked about elsewhere on this blog.
My paid work is physically exhausting. It is cognitively and emotionally challenging. I do get some wonderful non-monetary rewards for my efforts, but it's still labor.
In addition to that work, I am also trying to be a generally artsy-fartsy type (because I enjoy it, I have found), a halfway-decent person, and not the worst mother in the world. All of these require time and effort.
I recently came across the book The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman. I was trapped on a plane for several hours. It was there, I was there ...one thing led to another. You know how it is. I didn't get a chance to finish it, but I did put a good dent in it, getting halfway through. It was enlightening, or at least made me think a little. I have plans to finish it, although according to the book, plans can be counterproductive. I want to finish it --we'll see how it goes.
There is something in my head that compels me to make things. Moments when I could be quiet, my head swells up with plans and ideas. Sometimes my fingers get itchy to move, sometimes it's my whole body. I give myself work to do. As The Antidote discussed, when we do this, it's at the cost of quiet and, potentially, peace of mind.
Thinking about it, though, there is nothing wrong with working hard, as long as it is done purposefully and in balance with being quiet and receptive to other things. The longer I live, the more I think I may have a purpose (although what it is, I have no idea). I have a direction I'd like to head. Whether I make it to whatever that thing is off in the distance is not up to me, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to move my feet towards over there. I'll just make sure to remember to breathe and take breaks to look around in the process.
On a day I am not at work, I am at work. I have given myself work to do. Today, however, for the first time in a long time when not on vacation, I am also going to make time to give myself nothing to do.
Here's hoping you give yourself time for both, too. I have a feeling it'll be a good thing.