The timing of a recent trip was perfect, and imperfect.
I left feeling weary, overwhelmed by nasty weather and too much work, my Midwestern world persistently clinging to winter. Everything was brown and soggy, buds tightly closed, all but the hardiest of my garden flowers reluctant to unfold. I took myself on a writing retreat in California where I finished a book and worked, and spent long hours in solitude—journaling, writing, walking, driving–and soaking in beauty.
I came home with my soul refreshed and a book project finished. I also came home to a garden revived, trees flowered and lawn overgrown, bright purple tulips and my dog greeting me by the font door.
And, I came home to a gardening mess.
Asparagus, a perennial veggie, comes up each spring, for just a few weeks. Cut at just the right height, it’s so tender you can eat it without cooking.
I found my asparagus had not only burst through the soil, but had gone to seed, grown waist high. Although it may appear that I have a bumper crop, most of this will be stringy and inedible. Such are the repercussions of neglect.
Speaking of neglect, I have not posted on this blog since before Easter, and here it is the day before Mother’s Day.
I feel guilty, like the bad mommy of my blog, or perhaps an irresponsible friend to you, my readers. Six weeks of silence is really just impolite. You’d be right to accuse me of neglect.
I could point to the fact that in that span of time I’ve turned two stacks of other people’s notes into books (a job otherwise known as ghostwriting), but that sounds so much like everyone’s excuse for everything—I’ve been so busy!—that I can’t even bring myself to say it.
If I did claim busyness, honesty would demand that I also needed to take a walk on the beach every one of the twelve days I spent working and writing in California. I guess the truth is I needed to walk the beach more than I needed to write a blog post, and more than I thought you needed to read one. (In my defense, I tweeted, Facebooked and Instagramed. Those of you who really wanted to hear from me couldn’t avoid doing so).
There are times when we must neglect the unnecessary to focus on the necessary. I needed to meet book deadlines. In addition to being an author/blogger/speaker, I also hold down a part-time job, which I needed to work at in order to keep. I needed to give my family time, attention, food and accompaniment on college visits. I needed to attend my son’s volleyball games and go on date nights with my husband. Thoreau once wrote, “Your priorities are what you do,” so you can see clearly my priorities–which I think are moving in a positive direction.
So sometimes, you neglect what you can, to take care of what you must. (Tweet this) This is hard truth for me, someone who thrives on over-functioning, getting things done. Maybe you can relate. But there is also an unexpected repercussion of neglect: clarity on what really matters. A freedom, of sorts, that flows from realizing what truly must be taken care of, and what we can sometimes, occasionally, let slide.
What do you need to neglect, if only temporarily, in order to take care of something else that matters more?
Leave a comment and share your thoughtful response.