Friday, August 3, 2007

Time and the Hour

Did you ever have one of those days when time just seemed to slip away from you?

Of course you did. You're human. It's a fairly universal experience, and even people who are way more organized and disciplined than I am have had days like this.

Or at least that's what I tell myself when I look around at the piles of mail-clutter I meant to deal with earlier, the towels that still need to be washed, the chores from yesterday that barely got done today, and wouldn't have gotten done at all without the children's help.

Even this blog post was going to be done earlier in the day, when I had a different idea about what to write, and plenty of leisure--or so I thought--to reflect and compose it.

I don't really know what happened, either. A handful of phone calls, those chores I mentioned earlier, a post or two on someone else's blog, two loaves of pumpkin bread to go along with the very easy pasta dish I served for dinner, and I'm staring in disbelief at the clock, wondering what the heck happened to yet another summer day.

I'm supposed to be doing things, after all. There's a page or so of notes and names for the new fiction manuscript I want to write waiting on my cluttered desk, and I'm feeling more and more called to write a work of Catholic non-fiction, too. But all of that requires time, real time, the kind of time that can be pinned to your bulletin board and counted on, not the kind of time that dissolves so fast into empty humid air.

It's a conundrum I've noticed before: it's when I'm really busy, teaching the girls and planning trips out of town and making major home improvements and so on, that I'll actually start getting a lot of creative work done as well (I once wrote a short story right before leaving on a trip). But in the summer, when I've got all this leisure...well, I've got all this leisure, see?

And leisure, regardless of what Mr. Josef Pieper said in that book I had to read years and years ago, isn't always the basis of culture. Sometimes it's the basis for sipping slowly a glass of cold lemonade and re-reading a silly comic book that despite being rather dated still manages to speak to you. Sometimes leisure demands that you squander it a little, or else it isn't really leisure; it's just a different kind of busy.

Of course, some slightly better time management would be beneficial. Some cutting back on the visits I make to the Really Interesting Blogs I Have To Visit More Than Once Daily would help, too. Making myself get my chores done before I settle in for a nice chat on the phone wouldn't hurt, either. And I do well with lists, so coming up with a list of things I want to accomplish on any given day would probably contribute to my productivity.

But then again, if I live long enough, there will come a time when all my days are leisure, when being up, dressed, seated in a chair, and sipping a glass of lemonade will feel like major accomplishments, when I will live for the chats with friends or family who can stop by or call, when all those busy things of everyday life have receded into the distant past, and I don't remember them, or even what it was like to fill a summer day with cleaning chores and the baking of some aromatic bread. I suppose in some corner of a very elderly mind, if I live to be so elderly, there will be a bit of thankfulness that I was able to practice the still, silent leisure that will envelope me then, back when I still had a choice in the matter.

1 comment:

Willa said...

"I suppose in some corner of a very elderly mind, if I live to be so elderly, there will be a bit of thankfulness that I was able to practice the still, silent leisure that will envelope me then, back when I still had a choice in the matter."

Nicely said. I think you are right; it gives me something to think about -- practicing for the days when I can't take productivity and busy-ness for granted -- since after all, those things are not essential to our human nature.