When the end of December 2017 came too quickly, I decided that one thing I wanted to do in 2018 was write something in this online journal once a week. I told myself I would do it every Monday — it would be a good start to the week or a good end to the weekend, a thing done, a message communicated, and a way to keep my writing muscles flexed if I wasn’t working on anything else.
I quickly decided, after becoming bogged down in post after post and trying to make them perfect, to only give myself 1 hour to complete the process from beginning to end. That didn’t mean I couldn’t think about what I wanted to write about or how I would do it ahead of time — I make notes about topics that interest me on the regular and often look through them if for no other reason than to keep myself familiar with all of the things that run through my mind, and specifically the things that I feel are interesting or important enough to write down — but the writing process would only take 1 hour. I even set a timer to prevent perfectionism from taking over.
Yesterday’s to do list included, “online journal post,” as it does every Monday. But I didn’t ever get to my hour. I didn’t get my post written.
Mondays can sometimes be ridiculous days. One would think that the life of an artist wouldn’t be so dictated by what day of the week it is, but I suppose we’re somewhat conditioned, like most people are, to think we need to get a lot done, to think we need to get a jump on things or make a fresh start. Truth is, any day can be a ridiculous day.
I had a plan. Last week involved quite a bit of travel and stress for me so I wanted to do something grounding and comforting. I decided to delve into my new favorite cookbook, “How To Eat For How You Feel,” which is based in Ayurvedic principle, so I picked a few recipes yesterday morning and headed to Whole Foods. I normally get my groceries delivered because I can and because it saves me time and hassle, but I actually like picking out my own food and I decided I could devote myself to the whole experience — picking out a recipe, making a list, walking to the grocery store, unpacking my purchases at home, cooking, and then sitting down at the table to sample my efforts. Well, it took hours. I tend to cook a lot when I’m home, but I was reminded why I like the little app on my phone that allows me to skip a few steps on the way to supper, bruised apples or not.
There is so little time.
A text exchange with one person can suck 30 minutes out of the 18 hours or so that I am awake. Then I have only 35 30-minute increments left. Throw in all the emails, travel planning, business doing, laundry folding, bed making, suitcase unpacking, mothering, therapist and school communication, friendship keeping up, relationship maintenance, showering, dressing, hair brushing, moisturizer applying… good lord. The minutes seep out of the day. I look up to see the backsides of hours departing like high-speed trains leaving a station. Trains that will never be seen again. I want to shout, “Come Back!” at them. I want to tell them I didn’t mean to let them go. I want to tell them I’m sorry I squandered them on emoticons and pressing the delete key over and over, I want to tell them I’m sorry I didn’t fill up each one of them with deeper thoughts or at least some that would help me toward peace. I want to apologize for infusing even one of their minutes with anger or sorrow or tears or frustration. Those minutes do not deserve such treatment.
I did make some good use of the day, however. I did learn to make a delicious, warming, grounding vegetable curry and cooked my first mung beans. I didn’t use ready made brown rice to go with it but instead the kind you have to put in the rice cooker. Some things do take time. And sometimes taking time is worth it. The truth is I love to cook, especially for people I care about. I am lucky that I can cook for people I care about. I am lucky I have people to care about and that give that care back to me. But I beat myself up at the end of the day for never getting to this, this thing I told myself that I’d do, this thing that is important to me. So this morning I got up and thought about what I needed to change today to prevent my hours from leaving without having looked them dead in the eye, without them knowing I acknowledged them and gave them all of the meaning I could. And I’m not sure yet. Life isn’t like that. Just because I make a to do list doesn’t mean something unintended isn’t going to come sliding right into the middle of it, taking my focus away from what I’d planned. But I keep whittling away at it, always trying to work toward what matters, carving out spaces for the work that’s important to me and getting rid of what doesn’t serve my priorities. Yesterday I suppose my priority was cooking. It’s a good thing I have leftovers, because voila! My hour is up.
PS – hourglass courtesy of The School of Life.