I spent a good part of the last five days struggling to write about Sunday, September 20. Why that day? I wanted to write about it because it was the perfect day.
It was perfect not because I woke up to find that all of my gray hairs had disappeared. (They hadn’t.) And not because I found a brand new S-Works Amira SL4 road bike wearing a bold red bow in my garage. (I didn’t.) It wasn’t because AMC announced the unexpected return of the iconic and brilliant “Breaking Bad” for five more magnificent seasons, either (though no one can stop me from hoping).
Writing about it was a struggle because I wanted to be clever or profound in describing why it was perfect. Using the word “perfect” comes with a burden of responsibility. You can’t just toss it around; you have to be able to back it up with compelling evidence that is both engaging and convincing.
So I reached into my writing toolkit and tested one strategy at a time: a two-column contrasting narrative; a list of the day’s events with dialogue; pop culture references; quotes from books; composing from my dog’s point-of-view; and experimentation with the structure. No. No. Stuck. Frustrated.
Turns out that I got so caught up in trying to describe the day in just the “right” way that I lost sight of its true significance. I “buried the lede,” as journalists say.
So here’s the lede in plain speak: The day was perfect because it belonged to me. Not to my anxiety, not to my guilt, and not to my feelings of obligation to anyone or anything else. It was my day.
Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.
Most would contend I did nothing striking or arresting that day. In fact, most would (rightly) consider my activities uninteresting:
I slept later than usual; snuggled with my dogs and played Words With Friends on my phone in bed; ate breakfast slowly, sitting down; read the paper and worked on the crossword puzzle; took the dogs for a long walk; rode a meandering route on my bike with a stop at a farm stand for just-picked sweet corn; read and napped at home; talked to my parents on the phone; prepared a healthy meal including the corn I carried home in my jersey pockets; and turned out the lights by 9:00 knowing I had accomplished everything I wanted to do.
But perhaps what is more significant than what I accomplished is what I did not: I did not write or refine lesson plans; I did not assess any student work; I did not enter grades in the grade book; and I did not return any work emails.
Furthermore, I did not wake up in the grip of anxiety about the demands of the day, and I did not feel guilty for not doing more. I was bound to no one but me.
So that’s it. Nothing clever or profound here. Only that it was a perfect reminder to be as thankful for what isn’t as what is.
P.S. Just for fun: Sunday was also Gunnar and Matthew Nelson’s 47th birthday. Forty-two years ago on that day, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. And Americans celebrated National Punch Day.