Carpe Otium.

Dear Friends,

Have you ever found yourself fancying the thought that other people live lives vastly different from yours? I think most of us succumb to the notion at least now and then. I figure somebody else is always far more productive than I am. While I’m watching an ‘80s movie in my pajamas in the middle of a Sunday, somebody else is making bread from scratch. Or writing the great American novel. While I’m eating leftover rice with shredded cheese on top (because I’m too lazy to make a sandwich), somebody else is running 10 miles or reorganizing their attic. Damn overachievers.

Not long ago, the kids were away and Mr. Mom was away and I was home alone. And what did I do? I watched a ‘80s movie in my pajamas. I ate leftover rice. I took a nap. I read a cookbook.  I also cleaned out the fridge, and sorted laundry, emptied the dishwasher, and made a grocery list, but somehow the part about watching a movie in my pajamas and napping seemed to overshadow all the rest.

And so it was that I thought back to a conversation Mr. Mom and I had before we moved. In those days, everything unsatisfactory about my life was blamed on the easiest target a working mother can find, and it went something like this:

Joan: You know, I never DO anything. I just putter. I watch television and nap and read and cook. That’s it. I just putter around the house and I never DO anything.

Mr. Mom: So?

Joan: So? Don’t you wonder why?

Mr. Mom: You like it?

Joan: No! Don’t you see? It’s the commute . . . It wears me out. If my job was less demanding and I wasn’t spending so many hours on the road, I bet I’d be much more productive in my spare time. As it is now, all I want to do is come home and hibernate.

Mr. Mom: No, I think it’s because you like it. I mean, why do you have to feel bad about it? Why can’t you just embrace the fact that you like to putter and that’s what you do?

This was not the kind of honest psychology I wanted from my husband, but I had to admit he had a point. Why did I feel compelled to say I was forced to do it, rather than I enjoy doing it?

And, what if I enjoyed it so much I claimed the title of world’s best putterer? There’s no shame in loitering around your own house, is there? Perhaps I could become the Martha Stewart of dawdling. If anyone could elevate aimless leisure to the level of artful achievement, surely it would be me. I don’t know anybody else who can name five conditions for a perfect nap off the top of their head. I also know the best Rom-Com movie line-up for a rainy Saturday. And the Top 5 pantry items to have on hand for a lazy Sunday. You want to seriously putter? I’m your gal!

So, here’s to claiming our talents, no matter how modest or impractical. I’m seizing my idle day and you can bet my pantry is stocked.

With gratitude {for down time},

Joan, who always keeps crusty bread, cheese, fruit, wine and olives on hand