All month I've been feeling the pressure of lists of things I should be doing: making dentist appointments; editing the final draft of a piece and sending it off; finishing the half dozen books I've started this month; running more. Then, when another blue-skied summer day passes and I've done nothing from the lists, surliness spreads across the surface of my mood like an oil slick. At night I toss in bed, piecing together bits of plot for stories I canï¿½t bring myself to write; then I wake exhausted. Short fused. Critical.
But today it dawned on me that I don't have to get anything done for these few short days of summer that are all mine. All year I zig-zag through the day at a breakneck pace, waking up before the sun climes through the bare branches the silver birch outside my studio to make coffee and write, before heading off to a classroom full of lively, scrabbling kids. My days from September to June are oversaturated with accomplishment. I multi-task until the moments are frayed. I get things done.
Summer is the only time I can ever lick homemade raspberry popsicles, fool around with Wordpress themes, or spend twenty minutes with Bean on the looking -for four-leaf clovers. It's the only time I can read the New Yorker at the kitchen counter over toast and an iced latte for breakfast without having to be anywhere else. The only time I can spend the afternoon with DH, pulling down a dilapidated shed or stretching garden fencing. Summer is the only time when the hours swell with fragrance and the lazy hum of bumble bees; when words fall short.
So this week I've been trying to exhale and forget my damn lists. Forget arranging words into neat paragraphs. Forget the voice in my head that keeps whispering that I'll fail if I'm not throwing myself at everything I want, right now, with the fierceness of a matador.
I'm not sure where I got this voice. Or when I started letting it have such power over my days: staining perfectly good moments black. But I'm ready to try to be less complicated for the few remaining weeks of summer. To try, at least, to remind myself that if I spend a whole afternoon flicking through the Wordpress theme browser, and making an utter mess of things, it's okay.*