“We sat around the table and drank a bottle of wine / And it poured around us like a moat till no one could get us, and I was fine…”
Maybe it’s just the spring talking, but things in my life right now feel… good. I know it won’t last, but life feels manageable right now: no looming deadlines at work, our daughters seem moderately OK with their routines, and I have more time to just hang out with my wife, Kat. The weather is nice. Sunshine and the ability to take a walk don’t hurt either.1
Thinking about my life while writing this, I literally have a smile on my face. What’s up with that? What bad things am I missing?
I’m still tired at the end of the day, but it doesn’t feel like a slog. Life is happening, and it isn’t stressing me out; it’s just nice. You know, it sounds boring, but it isn’t. It isn’t spectacular either. It’s just good. But really good.
We sat around the table and drank a bottle of wine
And it poured around us like a moat till no one could get us, and I was fine
And I said, “Haven’t I paid my dues by now, haven’t I paid my dues by now Haven’t I paid my dues by now, don’t I get the right to choose?
And I choose you to take up all of my time
I choose you because you’re funny and kind
I want easy people from now on
The girls are old enough that they don’t need direct supervision all the time and the weather has been so nice, I’ve been able to just take them into the backyard and hang out. I’ll drink a beer and read a book in a beach chair, and they’ll just play. It’s the best.
We introverts even had our neighbors over for spontaneous grilling.2 People we like came over to our house, we put an old blanket down on the lawn, grilled food, ate it, and enjoyed each other’s company. Who knew that this was a thing that could actually happen? I actually want to mow my lawn so that I can hang out in my yard. Who have I become?
It’s hard for me as a generally anxious person to just enjoy this calm time without dwelling on the fact that it will end or a shoe will drop. The girls tend to have cyclical “easier” and “harder” times, and the sine waves don’t always line up. Like windshield wipers on slightly different frequencies, sometimes they appear to be moving together, sometimes in complete opposition. I’m prepared for there to be ups and downs, but I should also open myself to the possibility that the next down might not be that bad.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that I am happiest when there is time to just BE. When life allows a slower pace,3 things still get done, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming. When the stress level is higher, things get done because they have to. Doing the dishes now because “why not?” and doing the dishes now because “this is literally the only time I have to do the dishes, and if I don’t do them now they won’t ever get done” makes all the difference in the world. I’d like, at least, the illusion of agency in my own life.4
It’s OK to do nothing if you don’t feel bad about it. When things get too stressful, and I want to hide under a blanket from the world, that’s doing nothing and feeling bad about it. When I’ve mowed the lawn, the house is tidy (well, tidy enough), and the girls are playing in the yard, that’s time to do nothing and feel awesome about it.
Photo by: Jay Woodworth
- I’ve also been attending a yoga class once a week. It’s nice. ↩
- The idea to grill and the invitation was spontaneous. Food did not spontaneously become char-broiled. ↩
- In college I referred to this as the Blacksburg Pace, but have now come to regard it as the Anywhere but Northern Virginia Pace. ↩
- I spent most of my formative years as a Type-B Calvinist. As in, “God must want me to play Nintendo all day because I’m playing Nintendo all day.” ↩