Cambrian: Opinion

Sometimes the ‘scenic route’ is the best way to go

It’s OK to give your brain a break from time to time, to let it wander through reflections like light through a glass, colored and shaped by what it comes across.
It’s OK to give your brain a break from time to time, to let it wander through reflections like light through a glass, colored and shaped by what it comes across.

My Aunt Myrt, the “unclaimed jewel” of the family (never married) was notorious for the “adventures” she’d take us on. We never got “lost” — we “took the scenic way!” These were often exciting times. Never in any danger, we just knew it meant we’d get to rare pleasure of dining out as we’d exhaust our picnic supplies by the time we’d reach our destination.

My mother was known for driving us all over Southern California for a date shake in Indio, a dog parade in the Lancaster or to climb the giant fig tree in Santa Barbara. To both ladies I give the Tolkien quote: “Not all who wander are lost,” because while we ultimately had some sense of destination, we didn’t really care how long it took to get there. The adventure of the journey was just as interesting.

I read an Opinion piece in The New York Times that resonated with me, Homage to the Idols of Idleness by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins: “Our struggle against the clock is ancient.

“As far back as the 2nd century B.C., the Roman playwright Plautus lamented, ‘The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish the hours!’ as he railed against the city’s central sundial, which served to ‘cut and hack my days so wretchedly.’ Thousands of years later, what would Plautus make of this ringing, dinging world full of productivity apps that hack ever deeper into our days and nights?”

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in 1876, “You have no idea, unless you have tried it, how endlessly long is a summer’s day that you measure out only by hunger, and bring to an end only when you are drowsy.” Doesn’t that sound divine?

And have you ever realized how the more capable you are of getting done, the less you do? All these means of “convenience” weigh you down more with the guilt of not taking advantage of the “time saved is time offered to do more.” This is a quiet time of year for work and a dear friend offered, “So you must be getting a lot of projects done!” “Uh, no .”

Alas, I fear I have fallen prey to the “Wound-tight Spring” syndrome in that I cannot get much accomplished unless I’ve eight things to do at the same time. Either that or it is a gift of truly being able to “turn off” my motor. Apparently, no work means time to meditate on the birds currently frequenting the feeders or watching the sun spot migrate across the carpet or fondling all the dinosaur rocks we picked up in Utah — for the 30th time.

OK, writing, drawing, “brainstorming” (that’s one of my all-time favorite occupations) and small craft projects could remotely be considered productive. They don’t bring in much or ANY money but they make me happy. Huh. Happiness.

And, we all know that happiness strengthens your immune system, helps you live longer, makes you ultimately more productive, right? It’s just, what do you consider productive? Maybe that definition is what needs tweaking.

This is the resolution I offer to you: Make time to take time, time to do nothing. Consider that “nothing” IS “something”— time to recharge, to dream, to rest, to reclaim your life.

You deserve it!