I stepped out my door on Saturday morning and had a mild panic attack. I had nowhere to go. After many Saturdays of being away from home and other Saturdays packed with logistics, I had nothing. Now, nothing is all relative and compared to my single days, nothing still meant expectations of childcare and wife time, but there was no place I had to be at a certain time.
It felt terrific, restoring, energizing. I had the freedom to make the whole day up as I went along. So what happened?
- Bike ride with Evie, then dropping her off at a new parents brunch for her new kindergarten.
- Crawling around the basement sealing vents, cleaning up old construction debris, and getting the satisfaction of actually finishing a task in one session.
- Biking to the pool to hang out with friends, kids, and my family
- Spontaneously inviting a friend to a sleep over at our house
- Talking for more than 5 minutes with my wife about something other than Evie
- Watching an art flick, Children of Men, that didn’t meet expectations but at least got my brain going a bit
It was a great day. Why doesn’t this happen more often? That is a good question with many answers. Maybe it is the pressure of kids activities these days. Though not planned, I ended up talking with other parents at the brunch only to leave feeling the need to get Evie into soccer before it is too late. Much has been said about the over-scheduling of kids these days and it requires constant vigilance and a committed partner to avoid falling in to the trap.
I’m hoping the South will help temper my need to always be in action. I know it drives my wife crazy. The heat of the summer is a great antidote to working outside. My cars remain unwashed, my yard continues to be a landscape of unfinished projects and overgrown Southern summer jungle, and any house project requiring time in my sweltering workshop simply doesn’t happen. One would think that Nashville would naturally be a slower place than the Bay Area, but just picking up the latest version of the Nashville Scene with all the available local festivals, concerts, and activities gives me enough FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) anxiety that I consider the difference negligible.
What this means is that if I want more days like this, my family and I need to be more intentional, almost like a Sabbath. In an amazing feat of good timing, I finished up the weekend by starting a book I picked up at the Wild Goose, called Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time. It follows a family struggling with the same desire to live at least some part of their life unhurried, unscheduled, and unmeasured. It doesn’t offer a 12-step plan, but rather insights into things that worked, things that didn’t work, and a myriad of other suggestions for families that may not be like them. I’m looking forward to translating some of this into action once I find the time to actually finish the book. The irony is cruel!
Maybe it is a part of being older, but I’m starting to enjoy down time as much as completed tasks. This weekend showed me that I could figure out how to replace quantity with quality, both of tasks and relationships, and come away feeling recreated and refreshed. Now if I can just figure out how to rinse and repeat…