From Where I Sit – A Day Off

Most people I know are busy. But perhaps that’s an understatement. I don’t mean the occasional hectic burst of activity, I mean going full tilt day after day. By busy I mean trying to juggle multiple competing items on the calendar most days. I mean tearing from one event to another just putting in an appearance. Or having to decline other invitations altogether.

Another manifestation of this state of hyperactivity is the growing list of delayed projects. Tasks that might fall into M. Scott Peck’s second quadrant called Important /Not Urgent. Other quadrants are Important/Urgent, Not Important/Urgent and Not Important/Not Urgent. He believed that if we sorted our tasks into one of these four areas our time and effort would be properly directed for maximum results and calm. In fact, most of us spend a lot of time putting out fires.

Among the older set this isn’t exactly what we were promised. We were led to believe that life slows down and fighting boredom might be our biggest problem. The day would begin with a leisurely coffee taken on the patio with birds singing and flowers blooming. Next would be deciding between a day on the links or lunching with the girls at a fancy restaurant. Throwing pottery, taking up painting, writing one’s memoir, restoring the ’70s muscle car, or learning a second language would be our reality. Evening would come with us cooking a gourmet meal and savouring a glass of wine.

There would also be time and energy to babysit the grandkids, assist elderly parents, and volunteer at the soup kitchen. Our days would be our own to schedule and cherish. No more working for ’the man’ or punching a time card. The daily demands of work and child rearing would be over.

Bull. Because other than a few deadbeats who’ve never broken a sweat in their entire lives most people I know are busier than ever. So when I stopped one Saturday to ’catch up’ at home I was surprised at how long the routine (yet important) things take. Flipping the mattress then washing the mattress and pillow covers, coverlet, and blanket took time, but was necessary. Refilling the bathroom storage cupboard with toilet paper from the industrial sized package in the basement took time. Finding an unopened and unpaid (!) MasterCard bill on the table made me sick. Chucking out expired food, watering the houseplants, washing load after load of laundry, putting a roast in the slow cooker?.

Then it hit me. If I didn’t hurry to the north side of the house I would miss the blooming of the lily of the valley. A quick trip revealed that they hadn’t budded yet. Phew. I still haven’t cut a bunch of lilacs yet.

God only knows when we’ll repaint the garage doors, re-mulch the flowerbeds, or get the backsplash tiled. Or spend the day with Grady. I get that it’s important to stay mentally and physically active but, come on. A day off would be great, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..