It has been four months now since we moved to the opposite side of the world from practically everyone we know. Saying goodbye and not knowing when or if we will ever see the people we care about again was painful and is something we continue to struggle with. But don’t all of us do this every day without even thinking about it?
The only thing predictable about life is that it is unpredictable. When we say goodbye to a loved one there is never a guarantee that we will see them again. When we pass a stranger on the street, we don’t know if it might be the last human interaction either one of us will have. To be mindful of this is to know that each instance of contact matters.
Who will you say goodbye to today? Who will enter into your life as you go about your routines? Can you be just a little bit kinder? Can we all treat each other as if it might be the last interaction we have?
For the first time in many weeks, I have an empty day in front of me. Empty days frighten me. I am afraid I will begin the day with a sense of hope and promise about all I will get done and that I will end the day being disappointed with myself for not doing it. But empty days can also be my best days. They can fill me up at times when I feel drained of vitality.
The problem with empty days occurs when I let the glowing rectangles I’ve surrounded myself with take charge. I go there to “get something done”. But in the midst of accomplishing my task and seemingly without my knowing it, I am led to all sorts of places I never knew I wanted to go. When I get there I often feel frazzled, and the task I set out to do is left undone. The rectangles fill the time, but they rarely fill me.
But why do I feel the need to do so much anyway? Why not be content to let the day remain empty? An empty day need not mean an unfulfilling day. To have an empty day allows the space to be filled with whatever comes my way. The urge to follow that birdsong. Time to just sit and watch the play of light across the landscape. Naps. Naps are good.
The best kind of empty days are the ones when I leave the screens tucked away out of sight, allowing my mind to wander free of their influences. It is not easy to intentionally set out to have an empty day. It is not easy to let go of the urge to be “productive”. But often it is what is needed to recharge, to become full again.
Are you feeling depleted? See if you can fill yourself up by emptying your day. You can start by turning off that screen you’re looking at right now.