The next best thing to a perfect cuppa tea on the bedside table is waking up to the gift of a free day – no commitments, no obligations, no deadlines. I may be retired but that doesn’t mean I have a lot of free time. Alex uses the term admin to refer to unpleasant chores that require undue effort and sometimes I feel quite overwhelmed by admin tigers snapping at my heels – accounts to pay; phone calls to make; emails to send; fundraising proposals and reports to write; and a mountain of filing that never seems to shrink. I must confess that I spend more time worrying about what needs to be done than the actual doing requires. But I’m afraid that is the way of a procrastinator. On top of this there are always thankless and never-ending household chores lining up to claim my time, especially tidying. I spend a disproportionate amount of time clearing surfaces and putting stuff away only to find that, as soon as my back is turned, the clutter magically reappears.
I also have commitments that take me away from the farm, like playing bridge in the village several times a week and volunteering at the school. When you live on a smallholding you tend to try and kill more than two birds with one stone whenever you venture out. So although bridge in Nottingham Road may start at 1 pm, I usually leave home much earlier as inevitably I need to run quite a few errands while I’m out. Shopping once a week in Howick is a day affair; it takes 30 minutes to get there and after numerous stops we usually treat ourselves to a lunch out. Despite the fact that I enjoy doing all these things (indeed I’m grateful I have them to do), I still relish the days when I have no obligations.
So here’s to the simple pleasure of commitment – and admin – free days:
There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From The Sea