This morning I woke up and immediately began to stress about the day’s schedule. Where did I have to be? How soon? What needed to be done?
With a sense of considerable shock I realised that there was nowhere I had to be. Nothing is planned for today. Nothing is scheduled. There are no expectations and no crises to avert. No deadlines to meet or obligations to fulfil. For a moment my world wobbled on its axis a little, and then I found my feet and went back to bed for an hour.
Once I got up I got some breakfast, made my obligatory coffee (hmm, there was one obligation, as it turns out), and sat down to finish the latest Phryne Fisher book – always a heartening and profoundly satisfying experience. And now I am writing while I look out on my pond and the sunshine dappling through our rainforest trees. Although we are deep in suburbia, we have created a refreshing green space in our small front garden, and the trees create a blissful canopy. Pretty soon I think it will be pond time, although I should probably make sure my kids have breakfast first.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day where I didn’t have what felt like a million things to do, a million places to be and a significant dose of stress. I’m going to do some gardening, play with the kids, maybe do some of the mending that’s been waiting for months (some of it, let’s be honest, for years), but only if I’m feeling really keen. I’m definitely going to have more coffee, and a little morning tea party with my girls and the tira misu and chocolate eclairs that arrived yesterday from the magnificent Glutenfree4U bakery in Moorabbin. (If you’re GF, I highly recommend these guys. Real pastry, real bread, real pies! And fructose friendly, too. Heaven.)
I have always been a fan of unstructured time, yet even in my life there are times when things get chaotic and over planned. Of course the festive season tends to be the biggest culprit, coinciding as it does with all manner of school formalities as well, both at work and for my kids. None of these events are ones I could bring myself to miss, and they all contribute to my well being in different ways.
Yet the lack of space in my life sometimes causes my edges to unravel and fray. And, in truth, my biggest regret is that when there are spaces in my life, there don’t seem to be people to share them with, because everyone else seems to be rushing all the time. This may be perception more than reality. As a popular meme on facebook says, we tend to compare our own behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel. Yet I have a vision in my head of a utopia where kids run in and out of each other’s houses, friends drop in unannounced, and we know our way around each other’s kitchens.
Maybe there isn’t room for this kind of world any more. Maybe it never really existed. It’s certainly not something I’ve ever experienced. I guess what I’m looking for is a village, and I am well aware that villages weren’t necessarily comfortable places for those who don’t quite fit the mold. I think this vision requires unstructured time in which to flourish, and we all have things to do. Dancing classes, swimming lessons, jobs. Making time to stop and smell the coffee, and nurture our communities, isn’t usually high in our priorities.
So ask yourself these two questions today: When was the last time there was a whole day free on your calendar? And who is your community?