My Routine, or Lack Thereof: Daytime Television, the Gym, and Dinner
I like lists. And schedules. A lot.
It drives me crazy when items on to-do lists remain incomplete, plans are abandoned--or even more horrifying, never made at all--and days lack structure. This summer is the incarnation of my worst nightmare: I have no class, no projects, no job, no schedule, no obligations.
Yes, I realize the sheer ridiculousness of the previous sentence. To complain about possessing the privilege to take a summer off--totally and completely off--of course ignores the blessings that also accompany this awkward "pause" in my life: I have the opportunity to spend three with the wonderful man I married only five weeks ago; I can finally read the titles on my once seemingly endless and pointless "reading for pleasure" list and experiment with the millions of recipes I have earmarked on my Google favorites page; I may rest and recover from the exhaustion which always accompanies the frenzied end of the spring semester. That Dan and my financial situation is such that I did not need to search desperately for a temporary, unfulfilling job for three months in a strange new town remains something for which I am extremely grateful. Yet I love--no, really I crave--feeling needed. Having assignments to hand in, employers expecting me for my shift, and particular tasks that require completion makes me feel valuable, like I am not simply a drain on the earth's supply of oxygen.
When Dan and I learned we would move to a nondescript, relatively small town in the middle of the Midwest, we were not exactly thrilled. But so much of what makes a place is what you do and who you meet while in that place, and unfortunately, while Dan is occupied at work and class, I watch TV. And read blogs. And bake. And work out. And cook. And read more blogs and find more recipes to bake. And read library books. And then repeat the cycle. Every day. The university here offers no classes in languages or religion; the jobs and volunteer options I sought either took a hiatus over the summer, involved too much training to make it worth their while to take on a short-term worker, or already had adequate staffs. The city does not sponsor the hospital program I need for my degree requirements. The volunteer dog-walking job I looked into proved unyielding, to boot. Apparently, not even the dogs need me this summer!
So I fill my days aimlessly, despairingly.
Why do I value the finished paper on Matthew 22:22 more than I value the shrimp tacos I cooked for Dan and some friends for dinner? Or my library job and its embarrassingly small paycheck over moving to spend the summer with my husband?
I know the answer. Something to do with my self-worth not being wrapped up in my productivity, with pride, with patience, with learning to be still and to live with myself, undistracted by copious obligations and pulls on my attention. Still, that doesn't mean that I have to like it.
I mentioned earlier that I obsess over titles. I thought that this summer might best be dubbed "The Summer of Doing Nothing,"but I think it perhaps ought to bear the title "The Summer of Just Being...and Being Okay With It."