I went shopping the other day, and like any good gift-buying mission, I came home with a little something for myself.
For most of my years, I have been terrible at doing nothing. When I saw an hour in my schedule, I thought: How can I fill that time? What must get done? Who can do it with me? Let’s go go go!
As I grew older, I had less time to fill, but I didn’t lose that notion of DOING. When someone asked if I could meet, volunteer, call, work, write, or show up, I said, “Yes” even if it was the only 30 minutes of my day to do dishes or to eat lunch sitting at a table or to just catch my breath. I became so good at filling my time, a friend would ask to grab coffee, and I would pull up my color-coded calendar and offer them next month like I was a doctor’s office offering up physicals and not a person too busy to be a friend. An hour in my day meant another hour to plan, and I had no room for life or for rest.
I hit a wall during my second pregnancy when my midwife said I had to rest one hour every day to help manage my syncope, and I cried. I cried because being off my feet and relaxing for an hour every day was impossible. I couldn’t comprehend how to let go of my schedule. I did it anyway for the good of my daughter, and the lesson began to sink into my heart that perhaps resting could be for the good of me, too.
I guess I thought busy-ness would be make up for something I lacked, but as it turned out, I wasn’t missing anything except all the times life offered a moment to be entertained by glancing out the window or to be unexpectedly available to a worried friend or to be something as simple as petting my cat while reading a good book.
Being busy had its perks. I never had to think or feel as much as I do now. I never had to explain myself because I had concrete plans every minute of every day. I felt important even as I was missing out on what’s important.
Today, while plans and events and work and kids keep happening, I sit and rest as often as possible. I marvel at the unstructured, quiet time life offers me if I take it with a simple, “No, I (we) can’t” when my calendar calls. I’ve realized these moments of nothing are like speed bumps keeping life from passing me by.