I love this time of year, the transition from summer to winter. I used to be a summer kind of girl, but as I’ve grown into adulthood, while my worship of the sun abides (although now I put a sturdy layer of spf 30 between it and me) I find myself a bit resentful of the season. It seems we’ve crammed it full of weddings, graduations and a bunch of other obligations and the lazy summer days I remember from childhood just drift around my memory, taunting me of all the possibility that existed before the crackberry was invented. I also hate traveling in the summer – the congested roadways, the overtaxed rest areas, the higher prices of everything – nope, as I’ve aged I’ve come to appreciate how much easier everything feels once you are wrapped up in a cool scarf and exchange all those sandals for all those boots.
I also don’t think the rest of the seasons transition as beautifully as summer does to autumn. Right now, when I first wake up and go outside for the paper the air is chilly, nearly cold. As the sun rises and the air turns to summer as the day moves along there are still so many signs of a new season…a few fallen leaves skirting down the street, the pine-like smell emanating from the old homes that dot the street where I live after a day of sitting in the sun, a sky deeper and richer blue than a month earlier, nights that come quickly. With autumn, it’s something in the air, the shadows, a quickening and then a pause. It’s delightful.
I cried a lot yesterday. Sometimes I do that. I need the release. But mostly the tears came from feeling overworked and despite all the hours I am putting in at my job, feeling as though no matter how hard I work it will never, ever be enough. I cried because when I began to think of the mountains of work to do an all-consuming panic rose in my chest, and I cried because I no longer seem to have time for simple chores like dropping my dry cleaning off or stocking food in the house or reading a book or exercising. I hate it, as I explained to S., when everything needs to be done at once.
While I worked, S. cleaned the whole house and it feels brand new. That helped so much. But during the worst of my distress, I wondered aloud if I should quit writing, quit exercising, quit this blog (please please don’t see this as an entreaty to keep blogging, I absolutely am. I’m simply sharing just how I felt!). “Life would be so much better,” I told S., “If cable and my tivo made me happy.”
See, I don’t dislike working, and a lot of the time I really enjoy my job. I BELIEVE in work. I am not one of those writers who thinks the world should support her. I am happy to write in the cracks and crevices of a busy life…the problem comes when those cracks and crevices are increasingly filled with my job, housework, phone calls to return, and etcetera, the omnieverpresentetcetera. And for a moment or five I really did think I should trash the novel, donate my workout clothes and settle in for a long fall and winter of television watching.
But of course, OF COURSE, none of the above is going to happen.
“I don’t want to be around you if you don’t write or exercise,” S. said. “I believe you’d become impossible. What we need around here,” he gestured widely, “is a little discipline. We’ve had a fun summer but now it’s time to restore some discipline to our house.”
I thought about that for a few minutes. I knew it to be true. We have spent much of the last month going to restaurants instead of cooking in, going out for drinks in lieu of going to the gym, meeting up with friends instead of cleaning the place we live. We’ve been categorically chasing fun, and having a blast doing it, but too much restaurant food and too much drinking leads to things like sleeping in that extra hour instead of working on the novel or going for a run, things that balance the body and the mind MUCH more than vodka tonics and pasta.
As much as I hate to admit it, S. is right. I need to restore some discipline to my life. Blog while eating oatmeal, instead of reading People while eating donuts from the bakery down the street. Turn off the reality television full of people I just really hate and read again. As much discipline as it takes sometimes to do things we don’t always enjoy, like scrubbing the floor or putting money into our savings account, it also takes an odd sort of discipline to do the things we enjoy, like exercise, writing, reading. It turns out there is a reason so many people watch television and eat pastry…those decisions are certainly the easier ones to make.
But I don’t want to die without having read all the great books. I don’t want to die without writing every single story jumping around my head. And I don’t want to fulfill my genetic prophecy of heart disease, morbid obesity and diabetes. Especially I don’t want that. And so, discipline. I had a great August with my husband – a superkafrajalisticexpealidotious month. I don’t regret it. But it’s time to reign myself in, to remind myself that I choose how I respond to those I work with, and I won’t let their hysteria undermine the good work I do, and that I choose what goes into my body, and what I do with it on a regular basis, and as much as I wish it did, Fun doesn’t always equal Healthful or Happy.
I wonder if this sounds all stern and protestanty? I guess I can’t be worried about that. Discipline. Here at everythinginbetween, it’s this fall’s new black. Anybody else find it much easier to make resolutions on the academic calendar instead of in January?