Recently, someone walked by me at an event and said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you sitting down! You’re always doing so much, so it’s nice to see you resting for a bit.”
I laughed a little, and probably said something about how I sit down a lot, not to worry, please, but as per usual, that comment got me thinking: how is it that I write so openly about my life, a life in which I am fiercely, vocally, and unapologetically protective of my down time (time that I measure in days, not hours), and yet people still think I’m go-go-go?
photo taken a couple months ago
I’ve tried to set the record straight, writing about my boredom and the books I read and the unpressured hours spent in front of the fire tapping away on my computer, but it’s no use. People, including my own mother (but not my husband or kids — they know the truth) still think I’m crazy-nuts busy.
Therefore, I’ve concluded that the only reason people think I do so much is because I write about The Things That Happen (because the things that don’t happen aren’t interesting, yo). BUT I MAINTAIN: If you wrote down all the things you did — told stories about them, took photographs — you, too, would look like a whirling dervish.
photo taken yesterday (the book made me angry, and not in the way the author intended, either)
It’s all about the spin, see? Take Wednesday night this week, for example. That night when my husband came home, I was listening to French café music (because Kate said to), drinking red wine, parbaking a crust for a (future) quiche, making meat hand pies, pulling a baked mac and cheese from the oven and putting pans of not-finished granola back in, flipping the camemberts (take two), and salting a Tomme cheese.
Sounds busy, right? But here’s another perspective:
When my husband got home, he stretched out on the sofa and listened to me rant about a (very strange) phone call I’d gotten that afternoon. Then, while we waited for the kids to come to the table for supper, I plopped down in the rocker to sip my wine while he read the post I’d written that day. After supper, my son vacuumed, my daughter washed the dishes, and my husband hunkered down at his desk for some computer time; I reclined on the sofa with a book. Later, my son and I played several games of Rummy (because he’d been begging for several days), and then I read out loud to the kids. The kids disappeared upstairs, I did some more reading, and my husband fell asleep doing the crossword puzzle.
Here’s the irony: If I’d written about and photographed those calm, do-nothing moments, it would’ve made them feel like Somethings. Documenting imbues things with an outsized (or maybe appropriately sized?) importance. THIS IS THE PROBLEM.
Maybe it’d be helpful to look at it another way.
photo taken back in the Spring
Yes, I do things like make cheese and write and manage the household and work in a bakery and stay at home with the kids (who aren’t home very much anymore) and keep a budget and go running and cook, but there’s a whole heck of a lot more I’m not doing. Some things, like not caring for young children or dealing with a health crisis are due to my current life stage and/or good fortune. Other things, like not working full time or mowing the lawn or maintaining the vehicles or cleaning the house is due to teaming up with the people around me and/or lifestyle decisions and/or good fortune.
But it’s when it comes to my personal choices that the list gets really long. Some of the cool, fun, good, interesting things I don’t (typically) do include, but are not limited to, the following:
*listen to music
*keep up with fashion
*play an instrument
*read the newspaper
*stay up late
*hunt and butcher
*shop (except for groceries)
*decorate the house
*play with my kids
*make my husband’s lunch
*go to church
*send birthday cards
*dye my hair
*comb my hair
*have many close friends
*teach my (homeschooled) kids
*go on dates with my husband
While the first two lists are both humbling and grounding, there’s something sort of magical about making the third list. By naming what I’m not doing, I can better identify what I want to do. Also, it kinda creates a snowball effect: If I’ve made all these choices, then what are some other choices I might want to consider?
Now your turn. What’s on your don’t-do list?
This same time, years previous: fight poem, the quotidian (11.18.19), the quotidian (11.19.18), spiced applesauce cake with caramel glaze, in my kitchen: noon, sock curls: our latest infatuation, the quotidian (11.19.12), orange cranberry bread.