Time to Blow it Off?
I’m savoring Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, as I slowly make my way through one year’s worth of almost-daily “essayettes.” He’s written beautifully about the small and large things that caught his attention, what he found to be worthy of a few pages. When I read the entry entitled, “Blowing It Off,” I knew I’d met a kindred spirit. He spoke of being a disciplined and responsible teen, how he’d never missed his paper route and was late only once for a team practice. It brought me back to the sole time I broke the rules by not showing up to a class. My first-choice college had rejected me, and I’d gone off to sulk. My absence was duly noted and another student was sent to drag my sorry butt back. “I can’t get away with a damn thing,” was my take-away. Ross Gay tells the story of beseeching his father (diagnosed with liver cancer the very next week) to skip his job and go see Hell Boy with him. His dad said he really wanted to but…a missed moment in a shortened life. In honor of his dad, Ross determined blowing it off was a good thing.
The truth is I have a strong (obsessive?) “good girl” work ethic that compels me to do something worthwhile during the day before it’s OK to goof off with TV, or read a novel (although non-fiction’s OK), or go to a movie theater (remember them?). That’s Dad’s influence. He was the model of having something to do. It framed his life and gave him purpose. This persisted to age ninety when he finally gave up the task of choosing and ordering movies for play on the retirement community’s in-house channel. My polar-opposite mother has never had a problem putting her nose in a book, magazine, or (now at age ninety-six) watching TV any time of day.
There’s nothing wrong with having something to do; it’s why most of us get out of bed. What I deem to be a worthy endeavor is based on what interests me. I can walk away from a messy garage, couldn’t care less about whether my belongings give me joy or not, or if there’s pine debris on the deck unless someone’s coming over. I’ll willingly abandon chores to visit a friend. What I don’t do is engage in the simple pleasure of going someplace beautiful on my own just because I can. I’m beginning to think it’s time to retire my limited view of what defines a worthwhile endeavor.
Once freed from a job there are so many pleasures to be had beyond sleeping in (which, believe me, I love). As we wrestle with so much uncertainty these days, there’s no time like the present to appreciate and enjoy the delights that are within our control—like reading a novel in broad daylight, or taking myself on an "artist date," or going to a park not yet visited.
Where are you on the “need to be productive” scale? Have you been as compelled as me, or do you give yourself over to simple pleasures with ease? Please comment in the box below.
Sending you appropriately physically distanced encouragement—and a reminder to go do one special thing best experienced during the summer!