I have been thinking of the last thing I wrote about, that rare unspoiled hour of childlessness that all too often evaporates during a panic-stricken foray through the aisles of Target, fruitlessly searching for – and failing to come up with – real satisfaction.
At least that’s a big part of what I was thinking when I wrote that.
I want real peace in my life. And I want real peace for my family.
What we have now, truthfully, is often very close to military efficiency. Cleanliness, sometimes. Very often my laundry is caught up and our closets are well-stocked with clean options. But we don’t have a lot of restorative, fulfilling down time.
I thrive on efficiency. And that is a gift. But I’m really good at abusing the gift. And at confusing the gift for the purpose, if that makes any sense?
So efficiency is a gift. But I have the sense that it was given to me to accomplish great things for my family, and for other people…not in spite of them.
All too often I rush past the people in my life to get to the goal, whether it’s the finished laundry, the crossed off to-do list, or the final frenetic burst of productivity that accompanies those blessed 5 minutes when the kids are buckled safely into their car seats in the garage and I’m running back inside, flinging forgotten items into my purse, scooping up returns and library books and pieces of trash and turning off lights and stashing mittens and and and…
I hardly ever really rest. I hardly ever only do one thing. And then when I have the time to do more, I often spend it one of two ways:
Option 1. Utterly paralyzed by the specter of what could be. Thinking of all the myriad options of amazing I could accomplish in the 45/90/120 minutes I’ve been given, I drive aimlessly from retail outlet to parking lot to school building, accomplishing nothing of real substance and feeling increasingly more frantic with each 15 minute increment that passes.
Option 2. Full on relaxation mode. Suck the marrow from the moments. Drink all the lattes. Paint all the toe nails. Make sure that every.blessed.minute. is tallied and spent according to the gospel of WHAT WILL RELAX ME THE MOST, DAMMIT, BECAUSE I AM SO STRESSED AND I MUST SQUEEZE THE JOY FROM THESE PRECIOUS MOMENTS.
That option never ends well, either. Because I never feel full enough. I never feel relaxed enough.
And I’m realizing more and more, it was never meant to be about how I was feeling, anyway.
What if, instead of falling prey to the lie that downtime can restore me on a soul deep level, I just accepted whatever came to me as a gift from the hand of a good God who knows what I need – and when I need it?
What if I didn’t have to suck the friggin marrow out of my red Starbucks Christmas cup like that latte was the closest damn thing I was going to get to a “break” or “me time” in a week?
What if I could just relax and lean in, wherever I happened to be, whether it be a time of leisure or of toil, and accept that if this was what God had on my agenda for the day, it must be just what I needed?
That would be so relaxing.
If I could fold a basket of laundry without simultaneously racing through a mental checklist of what was happening next, while barking out a rosary under my breath for the kids to hear and calling it catechesis?
If I could slip away for a precious 45 minutes on the treadmill and just, I don’t know, walk. (Or run. Maybe sort of a moderate run.) What if I didn’t also have my earbuds in listening to the news while scrolling through my inbox on my phone. And what if I was fine with that?
What if there was no mental or physical list of feats accomplished and tasks checked at the day’s end…but just a sense of fullness, just the satisfaction and gratitude of another day of life drawing to a close. And maybe the house was not so clean, but maybe the kids were happy. Maybe I didn’t feel like falling face first into a giant wine glass and escaping ala the internet at the stroke of 7pm.
I’d like to live that way.
I’m really, really trying to open my mind and my heart to the possibility that busyness is not next to godliness, and that trying to accomplish as much as possible, be it leisure or work related, is no way to spend an hour. Let alone 24 hours.
Carpe diem. But gently, and selectively. More like carpe minute. And then the minute after that. And the minute after that.
I can’t make any more decisions in a day than I’m already making. But I can choose to make fewer. And I can rest in the knowledge that in letting certain things go, I’m opening up to the possibility of greater peace, greater rest, and greater contentment.
Last weekend’s surprise complimentary facial at Macy’s. I was 100% freaking the freak out the entire 40 minutes about whatever else I might be accomplishing with every second that elapsed.