My favorite days are nothing days.
Most of the time, our family calendar tumbles over its own neat edges. There are swim lessons, library story times, piano, Daisies, doctors appointments, play dates, homeschool group . . . . Minutes run by like a litany, a repetition that drones. On a nothing day, the calendar square is blank, unwritten. On a nothing day, almost anything can happen.
That “anything” usually starts small. Boredom seeps through the cracks. We drift, unmoored. The turbulence settles. Jewels begin to surface.
The kids grab picture books and cozy into our bed, piled round with pillows. There’s no rush to breakfast, toothbrushes, and tasks. We take our time. We dig in the garden and inspect the seedlings. We throw down grass seed, water it, and get mud between our toes. On a nothing day, we work through our homeschooling lessons without a sense of urgency, without feeling that the ticking clock is hammering its minutes on our backs.
We go for walks or do silly yoga in the living room. Rainbow Girl, my eldest, lingers at the piano all afternoon. Boo Monkey, age four, splashes with water toys in the bathroom sink or tromps around the house in nothing but socks, shin guards, and light-up sneakers. On nothing days, my kids invent new games or songs, poems or art projects. They luxuriate in the sense that time has widened, leaving a gap for creativity to blossom.
On nothing days, I stop chasing ideas, spiral-running. They arrive on their own, swifting wings. Characters are born in mid-stride. Plot gaps fill themselves with pirouettes. Nothing days deliver me up to indeterminate time. They create space for invention and discovery, for little lights that pop and sizzle. With my hands sunk in dish water or straightening the sheets on a bed, my mind takes off. Stories rush into the breach.
Most of my days feel like a carefully orchestrated puzzle, each piece with its predetermined location, its position on the grid. There is hardly any wiggle room, no elasticity. On a nothing day, the puzzle pieces shift and ramble. They fit where they choose, or not at all. Time stretches and I breathe within the slip-stream. I think, imagine, create. I find again who I am, beneath all the muddle, the rush, the lists and schedules with all their attendant anxieties. On a nothing day, I am. What is more valuable than that?