I don't know when exactly I let go of the idea that I was worth slow or idle time. In college, and even after Arlo, I was never one to skimp on a midday nap if I needed it. I loved quiet afternoons spent reading. Or wandering around town alone. Without even a destination in mind. I took solace in being by myself. Peace inside those rather aimless pursuits pre kids where I felt fine about doing nothing at all.
But these days I can't possibly fathom entertaining such loose freedoms.
It's something I've been thinking about a lot recently, particularly how much energy I invest in regretting intentions I have that either fall flat, or go unchecked entirely. Obsessing over the things I fail to get done on a weekly basis, wondering when the pressing need to get it "all" done was ever allowed to override the natural script of my internal monologue in the first place, directing my mood, dividing my outlook. All the time and energy I lend to such fruitless attempts aimed at recounting, revisiting, replaying my failures on days when I feel like I'm just plain losing the game. Hard and helplessly so. As if it were a game to loose in the first place. Tossing the fact of it over and over in my head like a mouse on a wheel on nights I can't sleep. And these days, for whatever reason, those nights seem more and more frequent. That feeling of weighing defeat that creeps in just enough to eclipse other (usually more valuable) moments that arrive bearing rightfully earned feelings of joy and lightness. As if they don't count enough to carve space in the narrative I keep. And I want to change that.
Mainly just how much my sea of thoughts come edged with guilt. I realized in examining this how much is linked to the constant presence of technology in my life now too. Where means of easy communication can never expire and tricks us into thinking we owe it our unhinged attention just because it's open and available 24 hours a day to us. I think about guilt attached to emails and texts I fail to answer in prompt time frames. The posts I neglect to tie up in the hour I could have managed to do so had I just been more focused. The deadlines I miss, the birthday wishes I put off - all piled atop the news I don't hear, the forgotten lunch left on the window sill I should have forced into his backpack before he left. The clothes I didn't return, the piles of papers I continue to avoid, the DMV apt I overlook, the recipes I loose, or wreck, or burn. The dog that doesn't go out for a walk on the afternoon hour that he should. The books I don't finish. The words I don't say. Promises I don't keep. All ill fated intentions scattered like broken bits of a better me conspiring to show me that I might -in so many ways - be doing it all wrong. Leaving me wondering when "it" really ever ends or is ever really "enough."
Because in the midst of all these sorely counted mishaps and underlying guilt I still cling to the innate notion of simply "being." Whatever shape that might take on a particular day, week, hour. Where I have to remind myself in this pressing quest to keep on top of it all I lie in danger or missing out on the slower good taking shape around me. The light in their eyes while they paint. The shadows on the wall talking through the morning light, the waves that roll in and out at my feet. Clouds drifting around the harbor in the evening. The good stuff. That stirs or inspires without any checklist to secure or reward to be counted.
So in this this dilemma I decide the best I can do is be conscious of it. Talk myself away from the guilt when it gets to be too much, find a healthier balance online so I am not over run by the desire to get to another point before I've even embraced the one I'm in. Reminding myself that whatever task I leave unchecked I still wake to the new sun over the hillside in the morning peeking through the dull glint of an unwashed window pane where I lie silent beside a happy, bare chested three year old in the slow hour before the other boys wake. Where I stop and consider some of the things recently that still "count" because they made me feel something, other than "accomplished" - happy, proud, content. Yoga in the park that Tuesday before the flu set in. Notebook sketches with Rex at the dining room table while a canned chili sat heating on the stove. Misty mornings at the beach where the dogs ran wild and the boys stacked rocks. Coffee alone in old town mid week when the right song came on right hour just as the clouds parted above the sea. A train ride with a friend. Dinner -just us two - for his birthday without the disjointed conversations we're so use to during dinners out. Watching from my van as Rex and Arlo sliced around a concrete bowl till the lights went out and the crowd started to fade. A blanket on the sand early mornings we meet for surf club, just before sunrise. Baked vegetables piled atop grilled salmon that I master on a Friday when I have the time and intent to get it right. That long afternoon at the children's hospital where a sweet, frail girl named Mia sat wide eyed and grateful as I drew a string of long haired mermaids to decorate her bedside table while she waited to go home. Sunsets that light the sky on fire now that Fall is finally here and the tone of the horizon seems more than ready to boast about it. Naps with Hayes while they'e at school, when I give in the exhaustion I'm always trying to outrun. Hoping to escape the pause it puts on my schedule. Running, counting, checking, scrolling when I know good and well I should just be here enjoying it when and however it finds me.
For more on the beautiful message of "being"- please head over to The Ma Books Here for a video that is sure to send it home.