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Saturday, February 13, 2016

More thoughts about time.

Necessary Structure

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”
Annie Dillard

One of the most difficult tasks people face in retirement, or at any time they are not gainfully employed, is how to structure their days. We think we have a million projects we're just itching to get at now that we have time, and some of us do. But many of us get stuck rambling on about which one to do first, and how much it will cost, and whether to put it here or there, and so on. We also may get one or two of those glorious tasks done and realize we're bored stiff. And then we get restless—and scattered—and sometimes we just sit down and do nothing. Becoming briefly nonoperational may be what I call “a pondering period,” a brief pause to decide what comes next, or it may be that our thoughts have become so scattered we can't pull the pieces back together enough to get on with life. And, that usually ends with depression.

Adding structure to our days is a good idea, no matter what. Having a plan, a goal to work toward, and a time frame in which to finish, is very helpful. Being able to look at my calendar and see that on Monday, I'm going to ______ in the morning, have lunch with _______, and do the laundry in the afternoon, even if that isn't exciting, gives me a framework on which to stand. There is nothing worse, at least to me, than to have someone ask me, “What did you do today?” and having no clue how to answer. It feels like a day squandered, a day lost, time wasted. If you want a day to do nothing—and sometimes I do—plan that, too. On Friday, I will not work. I will walk the dog and read a book and take a nap. But on Saturday, I'll get right back on that horse and ride.

Some of us need a schedule in order to keep life from descending into chaos. Times of inactivity are fine as long as they are purposeful—to think something through, to heal from an injury, or illness. But our bodies and our minds do not function optimally with too much inactivity. We must climb back up that scaffolding and labor with both hands to keep a healthy, happy heart.

                                                                     In the Spirit,


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