This time of year, I start thinking only in numbers. Countdowns, really.
One more month until finals
Four days until our Symposium presentation
Hundreds of to-do lists, meetings, and goodbyes until June 1st, when my job is done, contractually speaking, and I will be staring summer in the face. (Actually, I'll be at a conference for work in Chicago. But I will be wearing flip-flops. So there.)
When my residents moved out of their rooms last Spring, the hall and my spirit was completely empty. Any action that followed on my part was unconsciously cathartic. I ran three miles after months of ignoring my running shoes. I cried in the middle of a meeting about turning off cell phones. I checked out seven books, none of which I finished, and drove for miles one night in no particular direction.
I think I was searching for the person I'd set aside during the emailing and the stress and the constant nagging need to plan another event.
I am hoping for a different sort of end this year, one that feels more like a blessing than a dismantling.
There are things I'm making time for now, things like reading in the morning, going to the Symphony with my best friend, writing a blog post, and dancing to Taylor Swift after everyone has cleared the floor. The sort of things that, in last year's haughty opinion, would have counted as betrayals of the Most Pressing Need, whatever the heck that may have been.
When stressful times pass in my life, I barely remember what they felt like- and why I chose to prioritize urgency over relationship. Was it the desire not to disappoint my boss? The need to be noticed and perceived as productive? The fear that any unhurried efforts would fall short? I can't recall the reasons, and I think that's precisely why I'm tempted to do the whole stressed-out thing so often. If I could feel again the raw panic of speeding through my life at every turn, the burn of bloodshot eyes and the sting of a sharpened tongue, I would never willingly concede to living that way.
I don't want to end with stress, so this Spring, I'm crunching some new numbers-ones that will stay constant when my work is done, like the amount of time I give to laying in a hammock on a perfectly sunny day.
In Summer, there will still be dancing and blog posting, encouraging notes and concerts in the city. I want to show up to those moments full and whole and maybe even a little sunburned. Sure, I'll be drained after my hall closes-that part may be unavoidable-but it will not be due to the lack of gifts given to me in this particular season, right here and now.
Why wait to linger in the company of goodness until the countdown is over? I'd rather be in the habit of savoring good things, so I won't need to go searching for them when Summer finally comes.