I have always been hard on myself if I pass a day with no “redeeming” purposeful activity. The usual shopping trips or household routines don’t really qualify. If I haven’t advanced something, somehow, but have just mooshed through a day, it feels like a waste. But, here are the things I am learning with age:
1. Nobody cares! Absolutely no one pays any attention to whether I sit at the computer writing, or fill my time reading catalogues or magazines. They don’t even know, and frankly, they all expect old ladies to just get through their days any which way that they can. But, that’s also the standard we apply to others. Hey, if it’s not hurting yourself and other folks, and if it’s your free time…do what you want to do! But, internally, I either drive myself to produce or feel slightly negligent for not.
2. Often, it all comes out the same anyway. Time has passed and that’s about the long and the short of it. You have either entertained yourself by the “progress” you’ve made…by the new plants you have put in the ground; the weeds you have pulled; the mulch spread; or scripts, books or journals you’ve written, or else, you have napped a lot; watched TV; and read every magazine that has floated, unbidden, before your face.
Ironically, You are often right back at the same starting place within six months anyway. The weeds are back, the mulch has disintegrated, the plants have either taken root or not, and the scripts and book manuscripts have simply increased the volume of paperwork you now have to store. All of that purposeful work! So much of it went to just filling your time in a way that wouldn’t cause you to think that you are a lazy bum. Of course, the ongoing outdoor projects make the yard look cared for. The writing attempts make you a more interesting and lively person to your peers, and the journaling has its own rewards in logging an interesting life.
I believe that the summation of why we humans constantly weigh this inner dialogue, even if some would say that it doesn’t really matter how we spend our free time, is that we are carving and sculpting ourselves. If we settle for passive consuming, then we haven’t really shaped anything. But, if we diligently devote our time to hard and hopeful tasks, then that time is never wasted; even if the grass must be cut, yet again like our hair, with no trace to show of the previous work done on it. Or those cookies that we have all baked in the presence of voracious children or company – gone in a second! After all that work! Why not just buy a bag of cookies in the grocery store and sit on your duff?
“Because!” is the answer. Always, “Because!”