Day of Rest

My biggest deficit is time. I over schedule. It’s how I self-medicate.

But also, I’m a productive bad-ass. My 80% is most people’s 110%. I get shit done. And I do it in ways that most other people wouldn’t have thought could be done (insert “she said” joke here). I am a problem solver, a facilitator of ideas. I like a challenge, and what is more challenging than accomplishing a daily schedule that most people couldn’t even finish a quarter of in that time.

I’ll tell you straight up: it’s a rush to get through an impossibly scheduled day. The endorphins that kick in after the initial panic of “I’m going to fail. I’m going to fail. I’m going to fail” are up there with orgasm and the very end of childbirth (when the live baby is actually out of you).

But lately, I’ve come to realize I have an addiction to this rush. A sickness that ultimately is destroying my sleep and my sanity. Human are not designed to operate under constant stress. It makes us cranky, tired, and – worst of all – fat.

I’m almost 40 and, frankly, my schedule is writing checks that my body can’t cash (I’m sure Tom Cruise is feeling the same way these days – none of us are young . . . except millennials). A good cry and a hard nap no longer leave me refreshed. Instead, I just look like I had an ugly cry that left a lattice of pillow lines across my face. So last spring, I began to contemplate change. Not actually do anything about it, but I began to imagine what a life would look like if I said “no” a few times, had whole days where nothing was getting done.

Eventually that thought exercise turned into a desire to put it into weekly practice: designate one day a week as an agenda-less day. A space of time to take the day as it comes to me without imposing my expectations of accomplished tasks and finished projects.

I learned one thing: it’s really hard to take a day off. In fact, for me, taking the day off is the equivalent of starting a difficult spiritual exercise. Resistance instantly intrudes, reminding me of all the things I haven’t done and need to do since I have all this free space. Most of the time, I cave. But I have learned one thing:

As good as getting the impossible done feels, having an expectationless day is restorative in a way that can’t be found anywhere else. Like this last Sunday, where a baby shower turned into lounging at the park with friends I’ve known for over a decade until it got too dark to see. Then we packed up and continued our lounging at my house.

Yes, I had essays to grade, things to write, tasks to get ‘er done, but the day had other plans for me. And because I chose to meet the day on its own terms, I had one of the most pleasant days of my life.

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