As a freelance writer, I’m committed to a certain number of articles each month. I often have to work far too many weekends and evenings to finish them all, but, once I finish them, my work for the month is done. This month, I finished my work at about noon today, and even had time for one extra article, so the next day and a half are an unexpected holiday.
Maybe I have too strong a work ethic, but I find something luxurious and wicked in this unlooked-for time. Maybe it’s a lingering feeling from school, when such time meant that you either had a doctor’s appointment or were skipping out.
It’s not as though I do anything special with such holidays. This afternoon, all I did was get my hair cut, then head to the gym and make a few phone calls when I returned home. Tomorrow, the sum total of my intentions is to stop by the video store and maybe do a bit of early Christmas shopping downtown. Hardly epic stuff, but stuff that my schedule usually doesn’t give me time to enjoy.
Not having to worry about juggling deadlines, making appointments, or any of the usual obligations of my working day removes the pressure on me. The pressure is self-inflicted, since I manage my own workload, and compared to that of many officer workers, it’s slight. In fact, often, I’m not even aware that it’s there. But, once I stop, I notice its absence.
Free of pressure, I take my time. My errands are not slotted into my schedule, but vague destinations that I can saunter towards at half my usual speed. Like one of our parrots, I can allow myself to be distracted along the way.
And, as I meander, whistling, I look at the hurry that everybody else is in, and wonder why they look so tired and tense. An overdose of Starbucks Ventes, maybe?
Maybe the main reason I enjoy these unexpected holidays is my awareness of how brief and uncertain they are. Some months, I don’t get them at all, and I’m left scrambling to submit my last articles before midnight on the last day of the month. And, even when I do get them, they barely make up for the work I do outside of normal business hours.
All too soon, I know that another month will roll around, and I’ll be contemplating another bout of the same routine. But, for that half day, that two days – however much I finish before the end of the month – my time is my own, and I can slow down. Then I feel smugly serene – and very, very lucky to have organized my life so that I occasionally get such windfalls.