Tuesday, July 13, 2010
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
A long time ago, it seems – really just five years ago but it seems like a lifetime ago – I had a pretty quiet life. We were homeschooling, and took life one day at a time. I looked at some of my friends who worked and had their children in multiple activities and felt sorry for them. Their brains seemed so full of scheduling dilemmas that there was no room for intellectual depth.
Now, with three kids in school and all of them involved in travel softball and baseball, we are busy every day. There is so much activity packed into spring and carrying over into the first few weeks of summer that it takes a few weeks to catch one’s breath. I try to schedule some “down time” into every day, a few hours of swimming in the pool before dinner and that night’s ball games, but it is still mentally and physically exhausting when there is no break in the constant commitments.
Leisure is needed to allow for depth of thought. Why I haven’t been writing as much as I used to has as much to do with the state of my brain as with my schedule. I used to wonder why those busy friends of mine seemed so “shallow”. Was I becoming like them? If I kept up at this pace, would I become a thoughtless creature, going through the motions of life without the whole of my soul involved?
We finally had a few days with nothing scheduled, and I even turned off the computer, which often provides distraction from absorption into family time. We read books, played chess, watched baseball, and just hung around. It was great. After a full day of doing next-to-nothing, I sat down and did a long-put-off project and was quite pleased.
Summer is a time for rest and restoration. As the kids get older and are provided with more options for activity outside of the house, it requires much deliberation to balance purposeful activity (whether work/play, or a combination of the two, such as sports) with rest and thought.
Are you getting enough rest to restore your soul on a daily basis? Is there a deliberate purpose to whatever you have planned for your family this summer? Are you just keeping busy or are you living deeply, sucking the marrow of life?