[Pause while some of us try to remember a time before iPhones, and how we used to walk dogs then too, somehow ...]
What I did was this: I listened to my own boots squash through the snow. I looked at how all the neighbourhood condo construction projects are progressing. I noted the progress of the sunset through bare trees. I felt the tip of my nose get cold. I felt the in and out of my own breath, and then, finally, the un-crunching of my shoulders away from my ears.
Like white space in visual design, just doing nothing during my walk gave everything else a bit of room. I needed it.
Last week I was on the verge of tears. Then I took the holiday weekend to drive Way the Hell Up North and back, with my daughter. Now the washing machine is busted and I have insomnia from reading too many books at bedtime. When I woke up yesterday, I felt like hell. 7am felt like 2am and the day got worse from there. I had one phone meeting about a workshop I'm running in the spring, and wrote one email. That was it. I didn't even load the dishwasher, or read one page of research, or grade one participation activity. I had two naps, and went out for lunch. I berated myself on Facebook for wasting my own time, but then continued to waste it, all day. I skipped yoga. I watched two episodes of 30 Rock with my husband and called it a night. Ugh.
I'm a big advocate of making efficient use of my time (see the quite popular post on the 30 minute miracle to that effect). But in the same way that a one page research summary of 400 words can sometimes convey more and better information than a margin-fiddled, font-optimized one page research summary of 900 words, sometimes, the 30 minute miracle I need is more white space.
So today I'm asking myself:
- What if I walked across campus to class without using that time to eat my lunch?
- What if I could wait at the bus stop without reading all the top stories in the New York Times?
- What if I could walk the dog without having to stop to scribble notes from the podcast I'm listening to?
- What if I could just watch Magic Schoolbus with my daughter instead of also trying to answer student emails at the same time?
So here's to the blank spaces and what they do for us.