Hurricane Isaac completely spoiled my routine – every bit of it. Sure, there were all kinds of productive things I could have done for four days without power. Like write about a half-zillion thank you notes. Or my memoirs. Or a plan for the half-dozen cool tele-courses that are still in my head instead of out in the world where people might actually be able to sign up for them and enjoy them!
Nope. I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t draw. I didn’t sit in the grass. I didn’t journal. I didn’t read the books I usually read as part of my morning routine.
Instead I took long naps during the day since I kept waking up at 4 a.m.
I played Backgammon and Pictionary and Boggle and Trivial Pursuit by candlelight with my sweetheart. We laughed a lot!
I made pancakes and bacon and a blueberry pie.
I did a lot of cleaning up in the yard once the wind died down. And before the wind died down I listened to the AM radio station for news about the storm.
I read people’s posts on my phone. I posted my own updates and texted and called family. I sat in the car and charged the phone.
I worked with my sweetheart to take down and store all the hurricane boards for the windows and doors.
I went on missions to find ice. I cooked all the rest of the fish before it defrosted.
I went with my sweetheart to an impromptu blue moon pool party at the neighbors’.
I sat on the porch with the cats, trying to catch a breeze.
I walked up the street with my sweetheart to get ice cream at the local place – they were selling it before it all melted – yum!
I finally read and enjoyed Wild by Cheryl Strayed. More about that later.
I purged and reorganized several closets, cabinets and drawers.
I chatted with the neighbors while we watched crews chop down the hundred year old crape myrtle tree at the end of the block.
When the power came on, I felt a weird mixture of elation and wistfulness. No more excuses to drop the routine – no more reasons to play board games by candlelight, or hang out in the street with the neighbors. Everyone quickly shut their windows, cranked their air conditioning and went back into their own worlds.
I think we all love a “snow day” or a hurricane or some other external factor to give us permission to clear our calendars and do something completely different. I wonder why we’re often less able to clear our calendars ourselves — to block out a few days or even one day and see what transpires. Oh, I know what you’re saying – that’s called “vacation” and sure, we do it! But vacations are different – they often require a lot of planning and foresight, and sometimes they can be as exhausting as regular life because of all of the cramming in of fantastic activities (that’s another blog post, methinks.) Clear days are different. They’re days where you just wake up and see what you feel like doing. Follow your whims. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
My general plan is to make Fridays clear days, but I just peeked at my calendar and realized I’ve been a bit remiss. I’ve been doing a lot of catch up work on Fridays. I’ve been scheduling meetings, calls, all kinds of stuff. In fact, I had to go all the way back to February before I found a true “clear day” on my calendar on a Friday – one that wasn’t wrapped up in a vacation or trip. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I so willingly dumped my routines when confronted with four electricity-free hurricane days!
I think it’s time to reinstate some clear days on my calendar. How about you? Where do you need to make some unstructured space for yourself? Where can you sneak some completely blank time into your days? Even if you have tons of obligations and appointments and people counting on you for this and that and the other, where might you find one small sacred chunk of time that you don’t decide what you do with it until just before it happens?
Try it. There’s just one rule – pay attention right in that moment and do the thing that feels best then, whatever it is. I’d love to hear what happens, and how you spend the time. I’m starting up my clear Fridays again on September 14, maybe even September 7, if I can get caught up a little from my four “clear days” off from the hurricane! I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.