A journey of 420 days for me begins today.
I am a teacher. We are fortunate to have the option to avail of a deferred salary plan that will grant me leave from my position for the 2019-2020 school year. Attach the two months of regular summer holidays on each end of that and I find myself with 14 months extended before me that will be unlike any other 14 consecutive months I have ever experienced.
My job is rigidly structured and very inflexible as far as vacation time is concerned. Recess, for example, is from 10:00 – 10:15 and we are expected to be in our classrooms at 10:15 sharp. Our periods are 30 minutes long. As teachers we find ourselves constantly looking at the clock to gauge how much longer the kids can work on something or when they need to start putting things away. People keep asking me what I have planned for my time off. What I plan is to not have a plan. Routine can be a blessing, but also a crutch.
As I sit on my deck shaded from the sun on the first of 420 unplanned mornings, enjoying the potted flowers I made sure were there for this day, noticing the greens of our vegetable garden starting to show, listening to the birds – it excites me to have no idea exactly what the next 14 months are going to look like. My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland in April. Beyond that, I have a multitude of ideas and dreams and aspirations of things I would like to experience and places I would love to see. Exactly what will manifest over that time frame is yet to be discovered. I love not knowing.
But here’s another truth. At the same time, it causes me some anxiety. Maybe it’s because of my job, maybe due to my personality, maybe both. I have often felt that I was fighting against or fighting for time. Either way, it has felt like pressure. I have always felt the need to achieve, to accomplish something, to have made the time worth it. Now before me I see a long continuum of time and I accept it as a gift. I am personally committed to not having a must-do list before I return to work. There is no closet that must be cleaned out. No art project that must be completed. No trip that must be taken. I have made a promise to myself to intuitively enjoy this time by choosing in the moment what to do and not be distracted by what I will do next.
When I traveled to Iceland a couple of years ago there was a quote on the bathroom stall.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
What if my life is already great? What if being alive is enough? What if I have already done enough? What if people still love and respect me even if I don’t achieve another thing? I have the time to explore that right now. A lot of it.
Now the anticipation is over and the being begins.
420 and counting.