Young children in my classrooms resisted when asked to abandon the familiar or the anticipated: a substitute teacher at the door, a field trip canceled by bad weather, math after recess instead of music.
They protested these unforeseen changes: “Why didn’t you tell us you’d be gone?” “But you said we’d go to the post office today.” “We always have music now.” One year a second-grade girl seemed unsettled by my appearance: “You’re wearing the wrong shoes. You always wear red shoes with that dress.”
Sometimes, when faced with change, I act like my indignant students. If Joel suggests we relocate the TV, I gape at him with dismay then wail, “But it’s always been against the wall.” I also argue with myself when I think about altering my habits or behavior.
Recently, I’ve struggled with the idea of writing less.
The notion of cutting back the amount of published writing I do first popped into my head when I wrote a post about the rewards of dithering. I wondered if meeting the demands of my newspaper deadlines and self-imposed blog schedule took too much of my time; if my must-do writing limited other activities I enjoy: immersing myself in a book, knitting hats no one will wear, writing poor poetry, and gazing at sunsets of gauze and crimson.
Recently, Joel said, “I’m going to the hardware store for some paint. Why don’t you go too? It’s a nice day. We could ride out to Loudy Simpson Park and take a look at the river.”
Head buried in my writing, fingers flying on my computer, I said, “I can’t. I have to get this column finished. Sorry.” As he drove away, a verse from “The Pasture” by Robert Frost crept into my mind:
“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long.—You come too.”
Though this poem is widely interpreted as Frost inviting readers to explore his poetry, I’d always thought of it as a depiction of a strong relationship between two people who like one another’s company.
Normally, I would have accepted my husband’s invitation, but this day, feeling pressured, I chose writing instead.
On the other hand, I have to write; it is essential to my life.
I knew I needed to find a balance.
Another bit of poetry encouraged me as I contemplated changing my routine: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
So with Dr. Seuss and Robert Frost holding my hands, I decided to adjust my blogging schedule. Beginning with this post, I’ll blog on the 1st and 15th of each month, rather than every Tuesday. I will read, enjoy, and respond to the blogs of others as I always have, but during the weeks I don’t blog, I will be indulging in the delights of dithering.
The struggle to achieve balance in our lives is universal. It is also unending.