Hello and a happy Sunday to you from a basement out in central Minnesota. I hope this missive finds you and yours doing well.
Quite warm out here in the Midwest today. High temps and bathwater humidity. But I did manage to finish up some of the yard work tasks on my list. Finally hosed off a few pieces of old play equipment the girls didn’t want anymore and placed them curbside. One item’s already gone, so huzzah for that. Also laid down some more red mulch, and placed a few more pavers off the back step.
Tonight I wanted to write a little bit about taking things for granted.
On my way to church this morning, I passed by a laundromat and watched a man carrying a couple of laundry baskets inside. It was just past 8:00 and the place was already full.
This brought me back to the pockets of time in my 20s when I lived in apartments and houses without a washer and dryer. I remember loading everything into my car (or onto a bike as it were when I lived in Portland…that was a shitty situation…you ever try balancing a duffel full of dirty laundry, and a jug of detergent on bicycle? It sucks), setting up shop at the laundromat, pumping dollar bills into the change machine hoping the quarters wouldn’t run out, then spending the next couple hours anchored to the machines.
It wasn’t all bad. Always a silver lining to be see through the clouds caught in the lint traps (See what I did there? Clever). The experience provided opportunities to read or write. But I don’t know if I ever endeavored to tackle a feat of public laundering early on a Sunday during those pockets of time, and I don’t have to in the present because I have the good fortune of having a washer and dryer in my home.
Here’s where the taking things for granted aspect comes in.
I’ve become so accustomed to how easy and convenient it is to do laundry at home that I don’t really appreciate that until I see someone else lugging laundry baskets into The Washboard at eight in the morning.
Made me think about what I else I take for granted.
I think the most significant aspect of my life I take for granted is leisure time.
Now that it’s summer, at least twice a day I have extended periods of time where I could be putting time into WRITING, whether that’s working on new stories, revising old work, researching new ideas, and/or sending out queries. I’m sorry (and a little ashamed) to say that while I do put time into writing, I also spend a fair amount of time reading, mindlessly wandering around online, playing guitar, or attempting to beat the next level of Two Dots (anyone play that game? It gets pretty challenging). While there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, I can’t help but feel I’m taking for granted the time I’ve been given.
In the preface to his essay collection, Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury writes “And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has be awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation” (xii).
This is the approach that I need to take. Every day that I get to spend above ground is a gift, and I don’t want to waste that gift. I don’t want to take it for granted. The only thing stopping me from making hay while I have the time is myself.
There’s no shortage of ideas. Plenty of notebooks with ideas and rough outlines.
So what’s the solution?
I know what I need to to do, but how do I go about doing it? I’ve set up word goals in the past, but I don’t think those are always effective for me. I could try a calendar, and set up what I want to work on each day, then when I get to the actual day, set a timer in 25 minute increments. Work for the allotted time, take a break, then get back to it. With this sort of plan, I could be putting in just under two hours of work each day. Worth a shot. And to make these chunks of time meaningful, I need to stop worrying about the quality of the writing in the first drafts. Just put the words on the page.
I’ll close for now, friends. Have a grand week filled with tremendous adventures, and wish me good fortune as I attempt to earn the life I’ve been awarded.