The universe is having itself a good chuckle about my plans.
November and December were consumed by kids' birthday parties, a family vacation, and the holidays. But January was going to mark the beginning of my 'official' sabbatical. Six blissful months of Me Time. No work -- just long, quiet hours of reflection, meditation, writing ... focus.
I was also going to Get Organized. File those stacks of bills and papers. Print and arrange into albums the last two years of photos. Sort the kids' toys into neatly labeled bins. Alphabetize the pantry. (You know, the basics.)
So last Monday the kids finally went back to school, the house was finally quiet ... and I got a job offer. It's not a permanent, full-time job, but it's not a small job either. I'm thinking about taking it, in part because the birthdays, vacation, and holidays all turned out to be a little more expensive than anticipated. Money? Money sounds real good.
I tend to fantasize about my life being organized into neatly labeled bins. Time With the Kids. Time to Write. Time to Be Sad. Time to Laugh. I have this theory that I'm at my best when I can focus on one thing at a time.
Maybe that works if you live alone.
My life -- like my house -- is a bit messier. Ideas for writing come when the family needs dinner. The kids make me laugh in the midst of an otherwise depressing day. Thinking time gets (ahem) interrupted.
So what if this sabbatical isn't, as I had envisioned it, a time-limited, neatly-wrapped-with-a-bow-at-both-ends 'break' from my life? A time when the world just stops, and waits for me to get caught up? What if this is my life?
True, I'm not working a steady job at the moment. But the family will still get sick. The phone will still ring. I will still be jotting down notes for the blog on the back of a grocery list while watching piano lessons, or racing home from the gym to get the dog to the vet. And apparently, opportunities will pop up before I am ready for them.
It reminds me of why I rarely bother to organize the kids' toys. I can get some of them grouped into bins, sure -- Legos, doll clothes, cars -- but in the end I'm left with a bunch of stuff that belongs in two places at once (Lego cars), and other stuff that defies labels altogether (pretty much anything that comes in a Happy Meal box). Oh -- and while I'm organizing the toys in one room? The kids are building a fort with my Tupperware in another.
One of my new favorite writers, Brad Warner, writes in Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, "It's a common romantic dream to want to live completely free from other people. But it never really happens. You can meditate for nine years in your cave, but someone's still gotta bring you sandwiches."
I choose these people. I choose this messy, disorganized life. Even if I'm usually the one who ends up bringing the sandwiches.