I began the day by reading this delightful article On Eating Alone in Paris. There’s something so self-affirming about being alone and not feeling lonely. It’s like telling yourself, “Hey girl, I like spending time with you!”
As I was reading the piece on dining solo, I was reminded of a lovely little write-up by my aunt about a rare flower on her window sill, and how she took time out from her busy morning to quietly celebrate the occasion. These moments, these seemingly unimportant moments, are what life is all about.
An NY Mag article about Yale University Professor, Laurie Santos, and her wildly popular college course on happiness, tells us that “Dr. Santos came up with a straightforward way of communicating the concept of time affluence to her students. After the midterm, when they arrived on the day of the “special event,” Santos and her teaching assistants handed out flyers at the door of the lecture hall that read “Class is canceled. Go practice time affluence. You have one free hour.” The only proviso was that they were not allowed to fill that hour with work. They had to do something unexpected: Read for pleasure. Take a hike. Meet a friend for coffee. One student was so grateful for this one-hour reprieve in her overpacked schedule that, at news of this gift, she started to cry.”
In most parts of the modern world, being busy is looked up at while an abundance of leisure is looked down on. Hell, it is even frowned upon. Being busy is good. Free time, eh, not so much.
Have you looked around your neighborhood these days? How many kids do you see running around aimlessly? They are probably all sitting somewhere learning Mandarin or practicing the violin. If they are doing physical activities like sports or martial arts, it’s something superbly organized, and often, indoors. Structured play and extra-curriculars fill up their days.
I would rather they just lay in the grass and looked at the puffy white summer clouds floating overhead. Or read a book that is not on their school reading list. Or make a new friend just because they were both outside at the same time, not because their moms have exchanged numbers and arranged play dates.
I am no expert at parenting but I do try to keep my kid’s after school hours as flexible and as unstructured as possible.
As is the case with most six-year-olds, my son is a fine example of taking things slow. Have you watched them get ready for school? It’s a painfully slow process that involves multiple distractions and deviations from the actual job at hand. But that’s another topic for another day.
This summer I plan to take it slow.
Watch my kids grow.
Make them laugh. It gets harder as they enter their teens. My lame “mom” jokes and Captain Underpants brand of humor won’t cut it after a few years.
I plan to cook slowly. Have you tried this slow-roasted indian-spiced salmon from Samin Nosrat’s highly-acclaimed book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat? Even my fish-averse son loved it. The lovely art is by Wendy MacNaughton and it makes me want to sit with a sketch book and rekindle my love of doodling.
I plan to practice mindfulness. My friend Debarati has an Facebook entire page dedicated to it. If you find yourself in and around New Hampshire, and happen to stumble upon one of her workshops, consider it your lucky day.
I plan to drink my coffee as I would my wine. Savor every sip. If this means waking up an hour earlier so be it.
I plan to walk more. Drive less.
I plan to listen more. Read more. Play more.
Doctor’s appointments and other time-bound engagements aside, summer means no school so I plan to hurry less. What about summer camp you say? Aah. We will probably be the last ones in. Those who know me will tell you that’s never going to happen. Taking it slow doesn’t mean you have to be tardy, am I right? Maybe some diligent planning and waking said six-year-old a tad early than usual would work in our favor. We will see how it all unfolds.
I am going to try and make every day count.
What about you?