My house is quiet. Quiet enough that I can hear the hum of the refrigerator and the bubbles furiously fizzing in the drink beside me.
The lights are dim. Our little fake Christmas tree is glowing at me. I spent the morning decorating it while my husband and son watched Elf in their cozy jammies (I lovingly asked them not to help). I laughed along while seriously considering the placement of each sparkly snowflake.
But now the boys have gone and I’m alone. My hair is still wet from a gloriously steamy tub spent giggling over The Blue Castle, which I’ve now read close to a trillion times. I’m wearing one of my husband’s waffle shirts; the ones he complains stretch out after one wear, at which point I happily adopt into my wardrobe. My calves are swathed in a chunky pair of knit leg warmers, my stomach blissfully satisfied after a Dairy Milk straight from the freezer.
And the serenity would be almost heavenly were it not for my pesky inner voice-which sounds remarkably like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada-harping, “Yes, but where are the check marks Megan? Where are the neatly stacked piles of laundry? Where are the thoughtful blog posts, the sparkling mopped floors, the Christmas gifts purchased and wrapped? Goodness, you could at least get in a work out. I saw the one and A HALF chocolate bars you just inhaled *thanks for the full disclosure inner voice*. Get it together woman. What have you to show for today?”
I’ve always measured myself by the status of my to-do list. Each precise check mark earns me the satisfaction of a worthwhile day, and a worthwhile . . well . . . me. Those tiny inked stamps of approval mean I’m doing, I’m accomplishing, I have value. A check mark-less day typically leaves me with a guilt hangover, and an ultra-condemning lecture from inner-voice-Meryl.
But then there’s this moment. This completely uncheckmarkable moment. And I want so desperately to be fully in it. This rare beautiful snapshot of complete stillness. This moment of nothingness that means something.
So I’m writing to remind myself. To remind myself that while productivity is certainly, to borrow the words of Martha Stewart, a good thing, it has not a scrap to do with my worth. And it should certainly not be pursued at the expense of peace. Or beauty. Or tight neck squeezes from my son. Or cheeky grins from my husband.
And so I’m going to savor my quiet little house, and watch the neighbors putting up their own bright lights. I’m going to leave the piles of laundry lurking in their corners, curl up in my big white armchair, and stay awhile in this utterly uncheckmarkable moment.
” But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many . . . somethings.”
Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail