Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I have been so busy. Christmas, yes. Kids, yes. Day to day family maintenance, yes. But I think it's more than that. I find myself spacing out at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and wondering why. I had a good night's sleep. I haven't done anything too crazy today. Why am I so tired? Is it my diet? Am I not getting enough exercise? Are these cah-razy kids getting to me? What is going on?

Then, I've been laying in bed at night and I cannot shut down. My mind keeps turning and turning. Processing and processing. Going over conversations. Going over events. Making sense of my day. And last night, it occurred to me that I don't allow myself any idle time.

After the kids go to bed, I'm either on to the next project, or turning on the TV or somehow engaging myself with something. The need to be busy. The need to be entertained. The fear of boredom.

So, last night, after trying unsuccessfully to go to sleep early, I decided to engage in some idle time. I did not pick up my book. I did not go and turn on the TV. I opened the curtain and lay on my bed and just thought and thought. I let my mind think about whatever it wanted to think about. Whatever mundane thing my mind needed to make sense of, we thought about that and made sense of that. It was a little bit prayer, a little bit daydreaming, a little bit figuring.

And it was wonderful and peaceful. I found that after some idle time I had more perspective on where things are right now. On what I wanted and needed and have and do. And that perspective was so nice and refreshing and seemed better than sleep itself.

So, I'm thinking that my New Year's goal (I am SO ahead of the game) will be about idleness. About making time for it and using it and learning from it.

And that's what I have for you today.


Firefly said...

Robyn said...

Thanks, Firefly. I am jealous of Wordsworth easy access (I'm assuming it was easy access) to rocks for sitting and thinking. I think that living in the city, I get swept up by the bustle and have to remind myself to stop. I think, living in more rural setting, that kind of stopping came more natural to me. Firefly, do you find that the urban-nes or rural-ness of where you are affects your idle time?

Melissa said...

I was up reading Wendell Berry (finally!) last night and I kept thinking, "These poems are so good, but i really should put this book down so I can process my day". I like taking the time to read, but if I dont' let my thoughts wander for a while, I too end up fragmenting all of my time for tasks or activities and don't give myself idle time.

You know that poem marti shared by Wendell Berry about "When I'm awake and thinking about my future and my children's future"...and then he gets up and goes and sits in nature and watches animals who don't worry about impending grief? Just last night I was thinking- I'd like to spend some idle time out in nature. When I was at Gordon, I did that so much, and I look back at that time so fondly.

Yay for idle time. I'm with you on this one.

The whole introverted/extroverted thing applies here. If I have a busy day, especially if it's socially busy, I need time to process and think before I can fall asleep. Chris, on the other hand, can go from one party to the next all day and all night, and the second his head hits the pillow, he's snoring. So he takes me to all these social gatherings, and then we come home so I can listen to him snore! He often teases me about my need for transitions and processing time. (-:

Robyn said...

Melissa! I bet you're onto something with the introversion/extroversion thing! Crazy how much of my life introversion affects!

un-nerved said...

Good advent activity = idleness.

Melissa said...

Do you and Dave differ in the need for idle/ down/ processing time?

Christmas Eve is our big social day- I'll be around Chris' relatives all day and night. And we'll rush home to get the kids to bed and hope everyone won't be super grumpy and overtired. Then we'll settle in and I'll want to stay up and think or talk to Chris about our day, and he'll be snoring before I finish brushing my teeth. Sometimes I'm so envious of that ability. And then I'll be overtired on Christmas day. If only I could just decide not to process!

Mandi Crocker said...

I took/am kinda still taking a life class on Wednesday nights. It's from a Buddhist-ish perspective (so LA, right??? *sips Starbucks & puts on slick sunglasses*) that focuses on being present & living your life very aware of your emotions, meditating, not thinking, etc. And for the first time I actually understood what "Be still & know that I am God." Take time to be silent, not think, be fully present so basically you're at your most vulnerable & most open to feel peace & joy & good things. It's pretty cool. That's what I'm learnin'. That time is soooo important. Word. :)

kate o. said...

this is great, robyn. i love moments like these. especially when they end with me falling back asleep ;)