Sometimes, I get sick at the thought of living most of my life away from the people that I love the most in the world. And it has nothing to do with my work or my job, but simply the idea that most of the hours of my life are spent away from the love of my life, our beautiful dog, and our friends and family. I’m always trying to make more time, trying to prioritize the few hours that we do have to be hours that are spent with one another meaningfully.
But the spiral of thinking about how much time is NOT spent with our loved ones is a dangerous spiral to go down. We go to work. We put our time, energy, passion and love into our work. By the time we get out of work, we have a tedious drive back to our homes where chores and other life necessities are waiting for our time and energy too. By the time it gets to the point where you are sitting at a dinner table with your loved one, you’re both exhausted, ready for bed, only to wake up to do it all over again the day after.
Today, my students and I looked at the Industrial Revolution. We talked about how the invention of machinery and the dawn of factory work led us away from home, handicraft and farm work and to the cities, where we live too close together, don’t make things with our own hands, and are so specialized that we can hardly figure out how to do something from start to finish anymore. I started to imagine what life would have been like before the Industrial Revolution. Would I be living on a farm, living my life peacefully with my husband, our dog, and our friends and family nearby? Would life feel fuller in that world or would it feel emptier?
In my playwriting class, we talked about what we would do with more time if we didn’t ever have to sleep. What would we do with all of those extra hours?
I would snuggle in the crook of your arm for longer,
and I wouldn’t let the rising sun disturb our slumber.
I’d spend time petting our dog more,
and making sure he slept in a place as cozy as mine.
I’d find time to plant flowers, even if I’m not so good
at keeping them alive right now.
I’d get better at keeping things alive: flowers,
stories, relationships that I treasure.
I’d spend more time writing, but instead of a computer,
I’d spend time writing in beautiful cursive,
in calligraphy that is so pretty that sometimes you can’t even read it.
I’d lay all this writing down on a bed made of
gorgeous watercolor images, some realistic, some abstract,
all paintings that I made myself, inspired by
the places on the planet that I love the most:
the space between your head and your shoulders,
the place where the laughter of our friends echoes melodically,
the car where we had our first real, actual kiss,
the locker where you showed me a magic trick for the first time,
the staircase where I looked at you and thought “This is him.”
If we did not need to sleep, I would spend all my time
singing to the tune of our beautiful life,
thanking the earth for every second I get to spend on her land,
thanking the heavens for the incredible sheer luck I was given
in order to encounter a partner as perfect for me as you.