Unstructured Time

What was my favorite part about last weekend?  It was the unstructured time I spent in the garden with Number Two as he found Items of Interest and explored.  Once you get in the habit of “things to be done” and “productivity” you forget that sometimes it’s good to do nothing.  Out in the garden on a sunny afternoon I decided I didn’t need to do yard work or water the plants or clean up toys or take down the Christmas lights.  All I needed to do was watch Number Two play with his trucks, discover the fun of pouring water from one vessel to another, and sense the gentle spin of the Earth from late afternoon to dusk.  In this unstructured time we drove trucks over dirt piles, fed the chicken some cracked corn and greens, ran across the yard to pick up handfuls of gravel, and finally got sopping wet transferring water from a bucket to a watering can.

N2 watering his short

This puts me in a mind of a character I’ve thought up, a wolly-haired bear-sized hippie who can usually be found on a Tuesday afternoon smoking week and listening to Manu Chao.  How does he make money?  He usually pays his rent, rarely on time, and bumbles from one job to another.  One week he’s selling flowers with some guy from Honduras he met outside a bar, the next week he’s gathering signatures to save the whales or walruses or whatever, then after that he’s a barista but kinda-sorta-not-really because he slept with the owner’s girlfriend so he’s giving that job a little space right now.  This guy, let’s call him Kyle, can’t keep a shirt tucked in, or a 9-5 desk job, or a copy of his current resume because that’s floating around with other “important papers” in the trunk of his Honda Civic with the plywood shark fin bolted to the roof and peeling bumper stickers like band fliers on a phone pole.  But Kyle is happy, almost in defiance of his shockingly perilous living situation.  He doesn’t sweat over bills or responsibilities or deadlines.  Almost his whole life is unstructured and, though it pisses the hell out of his family who feel like he somehow lives off the largess of others, he is undeniably happier and more relaxed than anyone else they know.  Maybe Kyle is a grown-up toddler or maybe he really knows what it’s all about.

Compressing our lives into cubes of time to fit into a shelf of cubbies that reaches up through the clouds, maybe that’s a mistake.  This weekend, or even today, give yourself the gift of unstructured time.  Wander around the block, explore your attic, sit in the garden and watch some fornicating ladybugs.  Do nothing and see how it’s really everything.

N2 playing with a dump truck

Writer, architect, father, husband.

Posted in Gardening, Parenting, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , ,

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