I saw a movie a long time ago. Think it was called “Macaroni.” Two aging men were sitting on a concrete bench overlooking a river in some city or other in late afternoon, just before dusk; the water had a glowiness to it. Maybe it was somewhere in Europe. Italy probably, with a name like “Macaroni.”
They just sit there looking at the water. Then one turns placidly to the other and says, “People don’t know how to waste time any more.”
It’s true. Life seems so relentless when you’re trying to stay on top of things. During my working years my week-ends were crammed. Keeping up with the house, yard, kids, grandkids, friends, yada yada. My Saturdays and Sundays were squeezed dry.
Then one day a a co-worker and I were having a break room conversation about how busy our lives were, and she shared a little secret with me. “Every once in a while I take a day off to do whatever I want,” she said. “A day all to myself. A ME day.”
It sounded enticing. A mental health day some people call it. To recharge. I decided to try it. No schedule. No to-do list. No appointments. No rules. Just me and the day. At first it was hard to ignore the chores begging to be done, but I resisted. To trick myself out of feeling selfish I told myself I was giving – to myself. And hadn’t I earned it, by God?
It didn’t take long to discover that I enjoyed sitting on the front porch reading or eating ice cream or just watching lizards. Puttering around the house was allowed. But no pushing. If I dusted furniture or washed dishes I did it slowly and mindfully. Sometimes I danced to a beat on the radio or went for a long walk. Took a nap pretending my Ocean Waves CD was the real thing.
So now I’m retired and you’d think every day would be a ME day, right? But I find that my days are still filled. When I was getting close to retirement, my retired friends used to tell me, “You’ll wonder how you ever had time to work!” It’s true.
Today I woke up a little tired and decided to treat myself to a ME day. I’ve done some puttering, slow and easy, am sitting on the front porch watching a couple lizards chase each other, listening to the birds call back and forth, loving the spring breeze blowing through. Really being here.
In a little while I’ll go inside and wash the dishes and get ready for a doctor’s appointment. But not just yet. Still got some high quality time-wasting to do.