Fresh coat of snow, clean slate, new start. Where shall we start? So many things to take up, resume, complete, and carry on that I am hit by the former Monday morning panic before I even get out of bed. I say former because I am retired and Mondays shouldn’t do that to me any more. But this is the first Monday of a new year and I am coming out of an even-less-productive-than-usual couple of weeks. I think my left brain is getting antsy.
I’ve been happy to put left-brain productivity on hold. Being with family is not “productive.” Playing games with a five-year-old is not “productive.” Even cooking a Christmas feast for seven is not productive in the sense that is nagging at me right now, or laundering all the sheets after the visit and hanging them up to dry by the woodstove, on three successive days. These activities disappear into the ether of memory and relationships and household maintenance so disdained by the left brain, which doesn’t know where to file them.
And then there is the decidedly unproductive category of entertainment, the novel chain-reading I’ve been doing (I hate to name them all but the last two have been really good: The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson and Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder), or the movie chain-watching with my husband.
All of this unproductivity has been exaggerated, or excused, by a debilitating cold that has had me dragging for weeks as it migrated from chest to head to throat and back again. I am not used to being sick and it gets me down more than it should.
There were days when I measured my wellbeing by what I could do. On this day I could shop for food but I couldn’t cook. On the next day I could cook but not think. Then I could think about organizing the Christmas letter but couldn’t write it. And finally, on January 2, I could do something that felt productive in the way I’m thinking about that now: I wrote the annual Christmas/New Year’s letter for friends, including a page of one-line reviews of all of the Netflix movies we watched last year and rated with 5 stars.
Actually, making that movie list every year is a way of milking a little productivity out of a nonproductive activity. We can tell ourselves that we take on the “task” of watching many, many movies throughout the year in order to sort them out and make these recommendations for our friends. (Just to indicate how hard we work at this, let me say that the nearly 50 movies we rated most highly represent less than a quarter of what we watched.
But this morning the balance swings back the other way toward neglected left-brain productivity in my semi-purpose-driven life. Coming out of my right-brain, stuffy-nose fog, I recall that a few weeks ago I decided that my word for 2016 would be “awake.” Ha. As I was checking Facebook and Downton Abbey recaps this morning I spilled tea all over the tray. That’s how awake I am. But I’m getting there. I must be feeling better. I managed to write something, even though it’s more of a whimper than a bang.
How is your new year beginning?