Sunday, October 7, 2012

Running on Empty

There was a time in my life not too long ago when my days were empty. Although I had a nagging feeling that I should be doing something during this time (writing, perhaps? cleaning?), I must admit that I had no desire to fill them. There is a delicious freedom and solitude in an empty day, and I fear that most of us have far too few mornings when we can wake up and happily sigh, "Hmmm, what shall I do?"
            Now, I know that empty days (and maybe empty plates) can be frightening (especially if you’re out of work and you need to pay the mortgage). But for most of us, empty days don’t last very long, and are few and far between, so it’s best (I think) to simply treasure them.
            Lately, my days have been incredibly full, and much of the stuff they are full of has little or nothing to do with things that I’ve consciously chosen. My days have been filled with obligations, responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments—many of which I’ve clumsily fallen into or have been imposed by others. Although it’s nice to be busy, I also find that I often wake up already tired on such days. I miss the emptiness, is all.
            It is indeed a luxury to face a day with nothing in it, to make your own choices about whether to walk or sleep, drive to the beach, read, work in the garden, or putter. I suppose this is what vacations and retirement are for, but from what I’ve observed, and often experienced, vacation days can be more full than anything, packed with mandatory trips to museums, restaurants, monuments, and tourist traps. After all, how many of us pay to rent an expensive cabin or hotel room and then stay in bed all week?
            The best part of an empty day is your ability to fill it (or not) however you want--like a child with a beach pail, collecting rocks, shells, or feathers, or scooping up a load of water and finding within some unexpected minnows swimming around and around. Empty days can offer happy surprises in ways that full days can’t (of course, they can also offer unhappy surprises as well).
            I’m not complaining that I’m busy of late (at least I’m writing!)…but when I’ve met my deadlines I intend to take a break. I find that I actually run best on empty, knowing that I can fill my day however I please. The word boredom is not in my vocabulary and won’t be as long as there are skies, mantras, music, birds, or breath.

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