My calendar is three feet by four feet and it hangs on the kitchen wall. All of the months are laid out in a grid; each with its own square foot of space. This is where I write the family schedule in multi-colored inks, one color per person. I spend a lot of time standing in front of the calendar. It allows me to quickly review a week, or a month, or a year, as I’m planning ahead to see what will fit, and what will not fit, into our lives. Each day gets about a square inch of space. It is common for the entire inch to be filled with a rainbow of notations about what is to happen that day.
Today I ventured out into the snow covered wilds to fetch the calendar for next year. Upon my return, I sat down with the pens and noted all the scheduled events of which I am currently aware. It used to be that a new calendar stayed mostly empty, only filling up as each month drew near. It was like a wave of scheduled events which rolled across the blank squares. It doesn’t work that way anymore. The wave is still there, but the empty is not. I have events scheduled through November of next year. Our path for the next year is set, complete with wayposts and planned respites. All of it is waiting for the wave of little events to roll through and fill up the gaps.
From now until that mythical day when we’re not so busy, I will be working rear guard action. I must defend the white spaces on the calendar. Because those blank days are not empty days. They are days which are full of the mundane things which don’t get written on calendars. I have to leave time for us to do laundry, and read stories, and clean house, and go to the park, and sit still. There has to be time for the boring stuff, which is the important stuff that we remember best.
I will not always be able to keep spaces empty. I can already see a couple of months that are going to be insanely busy. That happens. That is why it is all the more important to defend the spaces that I can defend. Defending the spaces means not volunteering for things even though I have the skills to get them done. It means telling people no. It means setting aside some of my shiny ideas indefinitely. It means making choices about the activities in which we choose to participate. Turning down an obviously good thing so that I can keep a day empty feels backward, but I have to do it.
My new calendar is on the wall now. In two more days it will be this year’s calendar and the adventure will begin.