… on scheduling nothing
May 29, 2016
Years ago, when JoHn and I were both still working bazillion hour weeks and juggling our careers with two, then three kids, we would schedule days to do nothing.
We actually scheduled them, by leaving the days intentionally blank.
Because there were things all over the dang calendar, all the time and it felt impossible to get rid of them, or stop them from coming (sort of like lice, but less itchy).
“Mac. Gymnastics Meet. 2 – 6”.
“Sam/Evan Playdate. Here. 1:30 – ?”
“Gabe…” (He was third so I don’t remember what we did with him but it was something).
Even family oriented activities like “Try to Talk Kids into Digging to China so We Can Have Coffee in Quiet” looked stressful on the calendar.
So the days would be left intentionally blank and they became, like, beacons.
We loved them. Unplanned days to do or not do whatever we wanted.
We were very good at using the word, ‘no’.
As in, “Hey are you guys free on Saturday?”, and we would look at the blank spot on the calendar and say ‘no’. And feel no guilt whatsoever.
We had a neighbor who would check the calendar when we said no to something (and she had a lot of somethings because she was an admirable extrovert and I … was not).
She would ask if we were free on <insert day here> and we would look at our coveted space and would say ‘no’ and, I am not kidding, she would go to the calendar the next time she came into our house and point out that we were totally free on that day and could totally come to her <insert event here>!
We could have gone in many directions with this.
Sure, I know, ‘Eject neighbor from life’ sounds like the most direct course, but we found her highly entertaining and fun in other ways. Plus it was hard because she could see me exiting my driveway from her living room, making it hard to convince her we had moved.
My favorite, and most suggested (to JoHn), was to come up with fantastical trips that would stand in place of our blank spaces on the calendar.
“Parachuting, Machu Picchu”
“Visiting Easter Island Statues”
“Namibia, just because I like to say the word”
But instead we went for “NOTHING”.
And that was exactly what we put on our calendar, in the once blank spaces.
So we would be asked to do something.
We would check the calendar.
We would see that there was a big NOTHING on that day.
We would say we had plans on that day, and we did.
To do nothing.
Nothing became the ‘something’ that we were doing. And it was an important something. For us, for our family and – if you take into account our reduced anxiety levels (which probably prevented stress-induced car accidents and the occasional homicide) for society at large.
So today I sit at the counter, after 11 days of carefully scheduled and people-ful events, and about 19 hours before the next scheduled something.
In the past 11 days, I have driven the 1,587 miles between our house in Dunstable to Sam’s house in New Orleans, done all sorts of cool stuff with cool humans (including a special and kind of awesome graduation) and driven what would have been the 1,587 miles back home, but ended up being closer to 1800 miles due to a bad decision (on Gronk’s* part) that routed me through Washington DC and across my nemesis, the George Washington Bridge.
So there was a little stress (just a little).
Then yesterday, two days after I got home, we threw the Sam-and-Gabe-Graduation-Party I forgot to ask people to RSVP for (so somewhere between 60 and 543 people came over and we celebrated and it was awesome as family and friends chatted and toasted and ate lots of good food).
Oh, and there was also a Space Ranger.
The day was pretty cool.
And tomorrow I will head to Maine to finish up and get the house back together after our recent renovation, before heading back for Gabe’s high school graduation and the family vacation that follows the next week.
Today’s schedule has a big giant “NOTHING” on it.
Today I got up when I wanted to.
I accepted JoHn’s offer of coffee and we talked and laughed and caught up on what we each experienced at the party yesterday.
We marveled at how lucky we were to have such awesome people in our lives, and that the kids have such awesome people in theirs (and of course this included a lot of “did you hear?’s and “No way!”s because we are not saints).
Kids trickled downstairs and Dingle Diner served up eggs, mix-ins and toast.
And today I decided on cake and milk for my breakfast dessert.
Sometimes we need NOTHING days because there is so much chaos, the bad kind (the stressful or awful kind) in our lives.
But NOTHING days can be just as important when lots of good stuff is happening at once.
I don’t want the good stuff to blend together too quickly into a big giant amorphous blob of joy (not that those aren’t good. Giant amorphous blobs of joy are not to be belittled).
But I want to be able to appreciate it all, as individual moments as well as collectively.
As it happens, and as it passes, so it can settle in all around my brain.
Providing smiles, and also – and importantly – gentle places to rest when things aren’t so great.
This NOTHING day in the midst of everything is needed for that.
So, nope, I can’t come out to play today.
I have really important plans.
I just don’t know what they are yet.
Thanks for readin’.
Thanks for readin’.
*My truck :))
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