July 3, 2013 § 2 Comments
I had a manic weekend away.
It was supposed to be a weekend of rest and relaxation, some me-time, and an opportunity to finish the second draft of my novel, and it was all of that, but it wasn’t R&R in the traditional sense – there were no afternoon naps or late morning sleeps. And yet I returned home to my family feeling refreshed. As my best friend put it – my bucket was refilled.
So, what did I get up to? Well, in 48 hours I sat on a bench and watched the sea, walked the Sea Point promenade, met some people I’d only encountered on Twitter, visited a dear friend three times, drank a fair amount of wine with her and others, climbed Karbonkelberg in Hout Bay with another Twitter friend and her lovely dogs (including Alfie the Boerboel x Great Dane, with whom I fell in love), had coffee with someone I’ve always admired, and finished the rewrite of 40 000 odd words (some may have been odder than others). And I may have squeezed in some tweeting because, well, I’m addicted.
And then I got home on Sunday afternoon, and within a couple of hours, the blues set it.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love my family and my home very much, and I was very glad to be home, and yet I felt quite deflated. Luckily, though, I have wise friends – Ruth pointed out that it’s the glimpse of another kind of life that brings the blues, while Clive noted that the return to the humdrum, the mundaneness of everyday life tends to do that. (I’m paraphrasing.)
And then Clive suggested a very interesting thing – learning, several times a day to stop and be present. Wherever you are, in the midst of whatever you are doing, be fully aware of being in the moment. Now just in case you’re rolling your eyes and thinking it’s new-age woo-woo thinking (yes, baby brother, I’m talking to you) it actually hits the nail on the head.
Because that’s precisely why this weekend brought me so much joy in a bigger picture kind of way. Because I really did live it moment to moment. For once I didn’t have to think about which child had to be where at what time, or what we were having for dinner, or what needed to be picked up at the shops or what time my husband would be home, or whether we needed a babysitter, or what time I had to be somewhere … I’m sure you get the idea.
That’s how my brain works – I feel like I spend 99% of my time working out the family’s logistics, anticipating needs, building in cushion time, balancing everyone’s schedules and trying to get everyone fed and in bed on time. And that’s just for starters. I try to control everything so that things run smoothly, to keep everyone else’s stress levels down, and guess what – it plays havoc with my own. And so the most blissful thing about this weekend was that I had no schedule apart from the drinks I’d arranged on Friday night.
I just did whatever I wanted to do, as opportunities arose. I didn’t have to consider anyone else – I could just do whatever the hell I wanted. I hardly even looked at my watch. And it was bliss.
Was I been selfish? Without a doubt. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing – it’s exactly what I needed. More importantly, it was also a good lesson for me. Because the truth is that I only think I’m controlling everything. Yes, I can plot and plan and strategise as much as I like, but I have no actual control over the future. Shit happens, all the time – my personal history has taught me that in big and small ways. And there’s no telling where or when that shit will happen. We only have limited control over our futures.
And most of the time, we’re so busy worrying about the future – and the past, to be honest – that we really do forget about now, this moment, right now.
And so I tried that today. When I remembered, I just took the time to enjoy where I was, what I was doing, and the things I could hear and see and smell and touch and taste. And it was a really good idea. Time moved a little more slowly today, and that was good – haven’t we all wished for that?
I missed a self-imposed deadline, I didn’t do a task that’s been bugging me for a while, I cooked dinner far too late – again, a self-imposed deadline – and we are all still alive to tell the story. But I was also calmer, less stressed, and I actually enjoyed my day.
So here’s to solitary weekends away. And here’s to being present. And here’s to all the fantastic people I’m privileged to call my friends.