I have a peculiar issue. I don’t know how to relax. Well, I’m cognizant of the process, but I’m not particularly successful at it. I enjoy reading for pleasure or watching movies, but of late a preponderance of leisure activities fills me with edgy, jittery disquiet. Putting my feet up imparts baseless guilt, as if subconsciously I think I should be doing something a bit more industrious.
The root problem is the titanic amount of free time I find I have on my hands compared to the superhuman busyness that used to fill my life. I know everyone says they’re “super busy”, but it’s no embellishment when I avow that I used to be outright, non-stop, never sitting still, honest-to-goodness constantly and consistently occupied. This used to be my average day:
- Up before 5AM to do farm chores – feed & water the critters, collect eggs, water & vent greenhouse, chase any deviants back to where they belonged. Handle any farm-emergency that may have cropped up overnight. (You’d be surprised at how often that happened.)
- Clean up so as not to offend co-workers with eau de’manure.
- Commute an hour & a half. Listen to audio books to avoid road rage as well as feel like I was doing something productive at 70 mph.
- Work a 9 hour day.
- Update farm website, handle research, marketing, & client/prospect communications during my lunch hour.
- Another hour & half on the road; home trip was often used for mental athletics – making tactical plans, problem solving, worrying, etc.
- Spend 3-4 hours working on the farm – whatever needed to be done – gardening, shoveling manure, repairing fences, cutting wood, castrating lambs, on and on and on.
- The rest of the day, say between 10-midnight, was devoted to household tasks… laundry, dishes, canning, bill paying, etc.
- Then on weekends I put in 12-16 hour days on the farm. Days “off” were few and far between.
Yes, I do realize that means I was working 45 hours a week at my job, commuting another 15, and laboring an average 56 hours on the farm. Assuming my math is correct, that left me less than 7.5 hours a day for sleeping, eating, and leisure time.
Now that I’m off farm and commuting all in an hour and a half a week, I have a lot of “spare” time. I’m struggling with it because I just don’t know how to function when I’m not insanely busy. I try to fill the time with exercise, I joined a chorus, I’m taking German lessons, I’m writing, meditating and experimenting in the kitchen… my tiny rental is ridiculously tidy. Now that the weather is getting better I hike the local trails and am putting a miniscule (by my standards) garden in at my office. Still the free time seems overwhelming and of course additional pursuits that pique my interest are limited by the age old nemesis – funds.
To the average work-&-watch-TV kind of American, my schedule might still seem rather full; it’s subjective. Perhaps I’ll eventually get used to a slower paced lifestyle; although I’m not sure I want to….