That was DF and me on Sunday, reading and hand-holding in adjoining easy chairs. For him it was “Mozart in the Jungle” and for me it was one of the “Anne of Green Gables” books. (I’d never read the series as a kid and recently I found several titles in the recycle bin.)
It was so nice to see DF rooted for a while. Usually he’s in constant motion: cooking, working in the yard or garden, hanging out laundry, tidying up. Even when he sits still he’s often working: paying bills, balancing his checkbook, dealing with his father’s estate. Yet there he was, reading a non-work-related book and smiling.
And me? The day before I’d written a post for Surviving and Thriving and finished my Monday post for MSN Money. Thus I felt temporarily free to follow the adventures of Anne Shirley, even though unread personal finance books are currently stacked eyebrow-high on the desk.
For the first time in who knows when, we were observing a Sabbath. I don’t mean that in a strictly religious sense, but as a day of rest. A chance to recharge. A dozen hours of peace. The opposite of obligation.
The etymology of the word is likely from the Greek sabbaton and/or from the Hebrew shabbath, “properly ‘day of rest,’ from shabath ‘he rested’.” What a delight to see DF rest, and to feel a few deadline-free hours of my own.
We spent the day doing only what we wanted: eating cottage bacon and homemade buttermilk biscuits, playing the piano, listening to the rain, napping, reading, taking a walk when it cleared up late in the evening.
We should do this every week, but we so seldom can. Let me rephrase that: We so seldom can make it a priority.
No time to slow down
For months it’s seemed that one or both of us have other Things We Must Do over the weekend. Writing, family commitments, time-sensitive chores (hilling potatoes, setting up interviews) and other hour-eaters conspire to usurp all of Saturday and Sunday.
Our work days bleed over into our weekends. I know we’re not the only ones to whom this happens. Saturday and Sunday are the days into which you cram everything you couldn’t finish – or even start – during the week.
So when do we rest? We don’t.
Big mistake. Neither of us bounces back from overwork as fast as we once did, and at our ages we’re increasingly aware of the importance of time. I’m 55, he’s about to turn 62: At what point can we call our lives completely our own?
No time soon, probably. We both like what we do, but more to the point neither of us feels completely secure with our retirement plans. If we had to stop working tomorrow we’d manage — but simply squeaking by and pinching every penny isn’t enough. We’re frugal and intend to stay that way, but we want a reasonably comfortable life and we also want to leave something for our kids.
The forced march
For years my goal seemed to be saying “yes” to every request and every project. How many of life’s grace notes did I miss during that time? (And even though I’ve jettisoned a lot, how many am I missing now?)
In a Get Rich Slowly post called “Want to save money? Slow down,” I addressed this unfortunate tendency:
“Galloping through the days becomes a habit. The trouble with juggling so many tasks is that you don’t know how to set any one of them down without actually dropping it.
“Try. Throttle back. Take a breather. Take a nap. Maybe even take a couple of days away from the forced march that has become the unfortunate norm.”
Yes, we want more Sabbaths. (More of those buttermilk biscuits, too. Dang, they were good.) Whether or not we can make that stick is yet to be seen. But something has to change. Both DF and I know that we need to learn to drop some commitments, lest those commitments ultimately drop us.
We don’t know the number of our remaining days on Earth. We do know that the quality of those days matters at least as much – and probably more – as the quantity.
- A satisfied life
- Midlife love rocks! (Ask me how I know.)
- Zombie consumerism
- The bottle blonde at the DMV