I feel like I've gotten things pared down pretty well lately, fitting into my day all the essential extras that have become important to me. I've got my morning pages (sometimes), walking the dogs (all the time), working out every day, extra writing time when I can squeeze it in between the lines of everything else, a few stolen minutes of meditation, and some pages of reading at the end of the day.
These things are largely done before the day starts or after it ends: these essential-non-essentials book end my days. Sometimes one thing or another is woven into the regular flow of the regular day, but I get a pulling sensation whenever I do this. Hand my four-year-old the iPad so I can meditate, ask the 11 year-old to babysit so I can run. I trade things, negotiate, sometimes steal time to make space for these things I need-don't-need to do. Because these non-essentials are really as essential as eating, sleeping, working: they keep me engaged, keep me from imploding. They are the bracing joints that keep my lungs inflated.
But I don't like for there to be tightness around these things. I don't like when I'm making dinner and it's taking longer than I thought because --
step 1 cook the chicken,
step 2 make the sauce,
step 3 remake the sauce because it burned in step 2,
step 4 the seasoning,
step 5 the other sauce,
step 6 roll the enchiladas,
step 7 do so many dishes,
step 8 figure out what else to feed the kids because the enchiladas are definitely too spicy too cheesy to red-saucy --
-- and I thought this wasn't going to take this long and the window I had for running is closing and I'm about to slam it on someone's fingers, the next person who asks for a glass of juice while I'm cooking dinner in my bare feet wanting my socks and shoes to be laced and already carrying me out the door.
That's the tightness.
It doesn't let up until I'm two miles into my run and I realize I started out too fast and I'm pushing against the ground instead of floating over it and the heat is high in my face and the blood pounds in my ears and
I notice this and --
pull in a deeper breath and --
work against this tightness like a knot: drop my shoulders, open my fists, shake my head a bit.
I look around. It's a beautiful evening.
When it's time to walk I let it be slowly. I watch my breath come down. My heart rate slows enough to wait for me. I walk back into myself. I had been hanging onto the backs of my shoes, carried along almost against my will, a shadow glued there.
When I come back in the house I'm dripping in sweat and something else too, something that's melting. It feels good running down my spine, down the backs of my arms, dripping and pooling on the floor.
I could even smile.
I could even wash the rest of the dishes without breaking any at all.
Not even in my mind.