Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s never enough time in a day? Between my daily commute, work, errands, chores, and the constant mini construction projects that keep my creaky old house standing, I often feel like the hours go by in a blur. It’s no wonder drive-thru lines are always so long. Who has time to make dinner when we spend half our evenings in the car ushering the kids to soccer, the dog to the vet, and ourselves to the gym? Wouldn’t it be great to have an entire day that was completely off limits to to-do lists, agendas, and appointments? It would be like the universe gave us the gift of 24 extra hours, wrapped it up with a little bow, and dropped it in our laps.
As Americans, we take tremendous pride in our work ethic. And we should! We’ve harnessed our collective energy over the past few centuries and done some truly incredible things. And, full disclosure, I really do enjoy hustle-bustle. There’s something satisfying about lying in my bed at the end of a productive day knowing I’ve crossed a few more tasks off of my to-do list. The problem isn’t that I’m busy, it’s that no matter how busy my days are, the to-do list never seems to get any shorter. Bill Watterson once wrote, “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want”, and I wholeheartedly agree. From dawn until dusk, my days are filled. ‘Do nothing’ never quite makes it on my to-do list.
The truth is, it seems like we take less time to do nothing than we should. Since our country’s beginning, people have come from all over the world to have a second chance on life, and brought with them their tireless energy and unquenchable desire to accomplish something. We come from enduring stock, and we are right to be proud of our hard-working roots. But on Mondays when we are asked about our weekends, we often regale our friends with tales of how many projects we completed instead of talking about how much we slept, or the new book we started reading. We love productivity, and we thrive when we are busy. Or at least, we tell ourselves that we do. Have we forgotten how to sit back and simply do nothing?
This year, the universe has been kind enough to drop the gift of a day into our laps. The powers that be have determined that, since the Earth actually needs 365 ¼ days to revolve around the sun, we need to add a day to February every four years to keep our calendars synchronized. Order must be maintained, and you won’t hear any complaints from me. 2016 is a leap year, which means we get an extra day! Remember all those relaxing hobbies you haven’t had the luxury to pursue? The glasses of wine and bubble baths you’ve been neglecting? The long walks on the beach and roses that still need to be smelled? Well, get ready for 24 hours of guilt-free nothing, because you are about to receive some bonus ”you time”!
It would be all too easy to treat our Leap Day like any other day, especially since it falls on a Monday. There’s temptation to shrug it off and continue life at our normal pace, but it would be a shame to waste a gift that only comes every four years. This year, let’s allow ourselves to indulge in whatever activity would be considered a waste of time on a normal day. When you are at your busiest and most stressed, what do you wish you were rather doing? I, for example, fantasize about uninterrupted reading time and long hikes through the woods with my dog. Throw in some tacos and a good beer, and I’ve just had my ideal day.
You could celebrate your Leap Day by keeping it low key, getting active, or reacquainting yourself with a long-lost hobby, skill set, or even your loved ones.
Dust off that book, log into Netflix, or just put in some earplugs and take a nap. Basically, the rule of this game is to leave the couch as little as possible. It’s not lazy when it’s a gift of a day.
Are your days spent primarily at a desk? Get up with the sun, stretch out those underused muscles and go for a run. Or a hike. Or even a walk around the block. Take the day literally, and leap out of bed in the morning and get moving! It’s amazing what fresh air and some blood flow will do for your mood. When you get back to work, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle that inbox!
Remember the days when you had time to pursue your interests? Be it Sudoku, learning a language, or even just the simple act of going to the movies with the one you love, the things you enjoy doing are important. The activities that give you the most fulfillment are what make you who you are. Having some bonus ‘you time’ is an opportunity to remind yourself what life is all about – living each day to the fullest!
What will you do with your Leap Day?
Will you dust off that tangle of yarn you’ve been meaning to turn into a scarf, go on a hike and forget about the office you sit in every day, or maybe even get a sitter so you can go on a date night? This year it’s a Monday, and in typical American fashion, I will be at work. However, I intend on spending Sunday, February 28 as my Leap Day. I will be leaping directly out of bed and onto my couch, where I will proudly do nothing at all. If it isn’t enjoyable, relaxing, or frivolous, then it has no place in my Leap Day. Sweatpants and cuddly blankets will be my wardrobe, and the sixth installment of one of my favorite fictional series will be my company. I’ll even attempt to do this with no remorse, which will be a challenge. I am, after all, an American.