I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
It’s taken me a while to get started, today. My mind is mimicking a snow globe that’s been shaken enthusiastically and replaced on its shelf. A flurry of thoughts, a pseudo-tsunami. I’m still waiting for it to subside, or at least to settle to a state of semi-transparency.
I’m curious to know where your thoughts travel to. What do your daydreams look like? When you’re just a touch too tired for let’s-make-plans, when a thunder-clap promises a watery onslaught, soon to come. When the headache chooses today. When you were planning on an afternoon nap, anyways.
And while we’re on the subject, what’s your opinion on summer rain? On the flash-crackling that convinces the cats to dart upstairs, to hide somewhere safe and dark and extra-warm. On the humid unpredictability of it all. Are you easily accepting of an excuse to keep the lights down low and the covers pulled high, tucked not-too-tightly under your chin? If so, I have a hunch you’re also the type of person who’s secretly pleased by the prospect of a spontaneous power-outage (outwardly rolling your eyes–c’mon, let’s go find the flashlights–but smiling on the inside).
Or maybe you’re more the type to groan inwardly, on days like today. Days that leave you alone with yourself, for what feels like the slightest bit too long. Restless days where you wind up spending a lot of time sitting, contemplating (over-analyzing? yeah, that too). Days that are too hot to stay in, too drizzly to go out. Misty, sedated, slow-moving days that clear your schedule for you, without asking.
Do we call these mental health days or lazy days, unproductive days? I have a hard time distinguishing between the two, sometimes.
Call me neurotic, but in the past I’ve had to schedule my free time. Hear me out–it’s not the worst idea. If you are the kind of person who starts shallow-breathing the second your life deviates from the well-outlined plan you so carefully constructed for it, it’s sometimes nice to manually pencil in a day off. To know that tomorrow will rain; to leave that calendar square blank. To wake up not to an alarm but to the hushed yet insistent sound of water droplets against house-top, and to be lulled right back to sleep without a worry in the world.
Today, however, I did not wake up with the intention of liberating myself from my listed obligations. The idea snuck up on me, tapping me on the shoulder. I think the possibility of having a nothing day occurred to me somewhere around mid-morning: the yawns never fizzled out, the air was already thick and sliceable by 10:30 a.m. Something-or-someone was squeezing my head in all the wrong spots, with too firm a grip. All signs were pointing me back to my bed, and I opted not to ignore them. My instinct was to scold myself for what initially felt like taking the easy way out, but I slowly–uncharacteristically–warmed up to my decision. I made a trip to the bank, munched on a mini-omelette, and then crawled back under the blankets, not bothering to change out of my cotton dress or shake my hair free of its ponytail. This is where I’ve been all day, (intermittently, at least) making sense of a mountain of mismatched thoughts (when I should really be sifting through the mountain of laundry sitting at the foot of my bed).
And, miraculously, I’ve finally managed to iron out a few, no longer too wrinkled to interpret.
I decided that in the event that an unplanned, not-leaving-the-house sort of afternoon should roll toward me on a chariot of cumulonimbus clouds, I shouldn’t feel guilty for embracing it with open arms. I never want to be the kind of person who’s content with complacency, or a sedentary lifestyle, but I also don’t want to be the kind of person who’s too fixated on What’s Next to appreciate all of the perks that come with a non-agenda afternoon. Said perks include things like the opportunity to have a wonderfully unhurried phone call, or the chance to take photos of a new, delightfully sunset-colored plant-baby. To stay holed up in my room with a well-loved book, venturing out only for a nibble of something crunchy (and then again twenty minutes later, for a sliver of something frothy, delectable).
Summed up, I decided to add a pinch of go with the flow, subtract a smidge of by the books. Because the strictest of schedules can go terribly awry, and unplanned days can be filled with the most spectacular surprises. So let’s make a pact, shall we? Let’s promise to take ourselves, our anxieties and our plans a little less seriously; let’s vow to be a little more accepting of the spontaneity of life.