I’m writing this in the midst of a heat wave, compounded by humidity that drains every ounce of energy. I’m not alone in suffering from this. Nearly everyone I know is also energy-less and devoid of inspiration.
This feeling of being in a doldrum isn’t limited to the summer nor to the temperature. There are times in our life when it’s difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, much less work. Sorrow can affect us this way, too, a feeling that nothing hopeful is on the horizon.
The question is: To be or not to be working. I’m what’s known as an obsessive workaholic, and any day when I don’t write is time lost for me. But these past weeks, even if I sit in front of my trusty laptop my muse doesn’t join me. She’s probably suffering a doldrum, too.
So in the pursuit of something that may help readers similarly affected, I’ll share what has helped me.
First, what doesn’t help: the refrigerator. Sure, the cool air when the door is opened is refreshing, but reaching for the ice cream just gives me “did it again” guilt. And that can be more draining than the heat.
What also doesn’t help is surfing the TV just to while away the heavy hours. Every time I’ve done this, I’ve had an empty feeling afterward. (Better to stock up on rented films.)
This is what does help me- and hopefully, you:
To allow myself T.O.W.G. – Time Off Without Guilt. If I had the strength I’d beat the drums for Doing Nothing. Unfortunately, we’re a nation that believes you have to be occupied every minute. Even our children are condemned to schedules – 3:00 piano, 4::00 play date. (How about just letting the child dream?)
This doesn’t mean staring into space obsessing about what we should be writing or painting or working on in whatever way. It can mean taking time off to go to a beach or park or, if that’s a hassle, to take a chair outside and sit in the shade for a while. That’s what I allowed myself to do, enjoying the beauty of my neighbors’ gardens. “Take time to smell the roses” isn’t a bad injunction.
We can also give ourselves permission, for instance, to just curl up with a book. Hopefully, a good one that we’ll later feel was worth the time. In roaming through my bookshelves this week, I discovered a book I didn’t remember purchasing or receiving: “Quartet in Autumn” by Barbara Pym. She’s an author I’d long wanted to read but hadn’t gotten around to. So I treated myself to hours of reading her book. At first glance it didn’t seem like the best choice, since it’s about lonely old people (and I was feeling both lonely and old). But the writing is so witty and cool – a la Jane Austen – that it was a treat. As a bonus, her restrained style inspired me, since I tend to clutter my prose.
I don’t claim that these activities (or inactivities) will work for everyone. “Wasting time” can make us feel we really should be busy with something. But who’s to say those hours were really wasted? After all, even in Biblical times it was considered wise to allow a field to lie fallow every seven years. or so. That way it could gain the ability to be fertile ground for the future!
BOOKS:: Widow’s Walk – available through iUniverse.com; Turning Toward Tomorrow –Xlibris.com; Ten Women of Valor and Role Play – Amazon.com and Amazon Kindle