Food for thought

I used to say that if I ever won the lottery, or if Ed McMahon showed up at my door with a giant check, or if I married into opulence, I would continue working because I had to “do something” with my time. I’d like to retract that statement.

Last week my time was mostly unscheduled. I shot some senior portraits for a former student. I spent some time in the car window-shopping for real estate. I made dinner plans with an old friend, which were initially rescheduled and eventually cancelled altogether. The bulk of my time was spent reading, experimenting in the kitchen, and birdwatching from my screened porch. Okay, fine, I also watched some “Magnum, P.I.” reruns. It was awesome. I never got bored, I slept well at night, my mind was engaged, and all of my senses were fed. I came and went as necessary. I communicated with only those people with whom I desired communication–my family and good friends. I was not bombarded by the noise, chaos, and urgency that make up my work life, nor did I have to read any emails that contained the words “testing,” “superintendent,” “meetings,” “standards,” or “student progress.” By Friday I was convinced that I could fill my life with enough substance without having to go to work. Where are you, Publisher’s Clearinghouse?

By Sunday my regular work anxiety had already started creeping back into my brain. I slept three hours total last night. Driving in this morning I felt that old familiar desire to keep going, to cruise past the school’s driveway and not look back. But here I sit, trying to cram a few more words into the six minutes that are left of my planning period, anxiously glancing at the clock every few minutes, wondering if I have time to run to the restroom one more time before the bell rings. I’m still not so sure I could do nothing–have no vocation whatsoever–but is it just me who’s feeling a little unbalanced? When did work become life? Since when did I need a whole week off just to feel like I had time to read–or breathe?

In your job, be it teacher, stay-at-home mom, full-time student, or ruler of a small kingdom, how do you carve out time for the maintenance of your soul?

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