Saturday, December 29, 2012

Relax, damn it!

I have trouble doing nothing. Relaxing. Twiddling my thumbs. These are non-actions that I don't NOT do well. If you know me, you might find this surprising. If you live with me, you might find this even more surprising. 

You might expect that, with such a high energy level, I would reside in a pristine and completely organized abode. You might think that I should have taught myself French in my spare time. You would, perhaps, ponder why I gained 40 lbs in the past 10 years if I never sit on my rear-end. 

But I didn't say that I never do nothing. I just said I don't do nothing well. I tend to, well, fret (as my dear friend JH would say.) If I am sitting still, my mind is going a mile a minute, thinking of all the things I should be doing, could be doing, might be doing, ought to be doing. Guilt, goad, guilt, goad.

I'm in therapy. Have I mentioned that recently? 

Since this is the week between Christmas and New Years, it seems right and proper that I should be on vacation. Hence the focus on doing nothing--and doing it well. Yes, leave it to me, folks. Not only can I guilt myself for doing nothing but I can also apply a further measure of guilt--gild the lily, as it were--by feeling guilty for not being capable of relaxation. 

But the whole vacation mindset is eluding me. Today stretched before me in an unbroken swath of nothingness. I could literally do anything I wanted to all the live-long day. I have numerous possibilities, occupations of nothing-ness from which to choose. 

For example, we have a jigsaw puzzle up. What a relaxing prospect, eh? Nay. I like the idea of having a jigsaw puzzle up during the holidays. It sounds lovely, doesn't it? Sitting together as a family, puttering away over conversation both banal and deep. 

But it doesn't work that way here. Jon has absolutely no interest whatsoever, as he has two new video worlds to conquer. Annie happily keeps me company but is watching episode after episode of Grey's Anatomy. So instead of working on the puzzle, I am now addicted to Grey's Anatomy. 

And, even when I do work on the puzzle, it is EXACTLY that: work. I cannot relax doing it. Because I completely suck at activities that require spatial intelligence. 

People with spatial intelligence (you know who you are, TH) simply look at puzzle pieces and SEE where they are supposed to go. Apparently each piece has magic sparklyness that twinkles at a spatially intelligent person, alerting her to both its presence and the exact place in which it belong.    

People who are spatially challenged solve jigsaw puzzles in several ways. There's color grouping, of course. And grouping according to the scenes on the puzzle. But really what we do is take a piece and try to fit it into a spot. And then we take another piece and try to fit it into that spot. Later, we take the 27th piece and try to fit it into that same spot. 

This is a method that works. If you try each puzzle piece, eventually you will find the one that fits. But you will have gone completely insane by the time you have finished putting the puzzle together. 

I have noticed this characteristic popping up in my life quite a bit lately. Not going completely insane, of course, but liking the idea of something, finding the reality not to my taste yet persisting in doing something anyway.  

It occurred to me today that, while there are some activities that I don't enjoy doing but I must, activities that are want-tos are allowed to be things I actually want to do. I'm no longer parenting small children, such that I need to attempt to create a certain atmosphere that will be salubrious for their little souls. At the half-century mark, my time is my time, alone.

The puzzle is going back in the box. Instead, I'm going to savor the evening and reread both "A Christmas Carol" and "The Birds' Christmas Carol." Because the endless day made for nothingness has dwindled to a precious few hours, now that I've finished cleaning out the refrigerator, reorganizing most of the kitchen cupboards, taking inventory of the pantry . . . . 


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