A life with broad margins

Today’s post is closely related to yesterday’s.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I love a broad margin to my life”, he was gushing over the joys of leisure time. When he so famously lived in the woods at Walden Pond, he certainly did whatever physical work was necessary for his survival, such as chopping wood and tending to his garden. He also spent countless hours enjoying the silence and solitude of the woods.

Today, it’s an insult to say that someone has “too much free time”. We all know what that means– it suggests the leisurely person doesn’t have a life, wearing that giant “L-for-Loser” sign on his or her forehead. He’s not important enough, not enough in-demand, not busy enough, not special enough.

Like Thoreau, I love the idea of having a broad margin in life. I need plenty of alone time to think and plan and recharge my energy. I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it, either. I get very anxious and stressed out if I have too many things going on at once. Some people thrive on stress; I begin to implode under stress.

On the other hand, that much-too-busy, oh-so-indispensable, ever-in-demand person running around manically from one meeting or appointment to the next is perceived as somehow “better” than me and my friend Mr. Too-Much-Free-Time.

I disagree.

Perhaps Ms. Busy-Busy needs to manage her time a little more efficiently. More accurately, she’s trying to do too much in too little time, and everything and everyone she affects will suffer for her lack of mindful attention. Maybe she needs to say “no” more often, delegate tasks to others, loosen her grip of control over a few things. Worst, she usually comes across as even more scattered and off-balance and ill-prepared than Mr. Too Much Free Time!

I’ll take the idea of living with a broad margin a little further. How about adjusting the margins within our lives, give ourselves a little more time here and there to feed the “What If” monsters? Things almost always take longer to do than we initially think they will. Stuff happens. Create a contigency plan.

I’m not saying to expect problems and emergencies, but try to allow extra time into your schedule to work around whatever “stuff” might happen.

If I estimate a 15-minute drive to an appointment, I give myself a half hour to get there. Those “What If” monsters need to be considered: What if there’s heavy traffic? What if I get lost? What if I need to go to the bathroom?  Even if none of these things happen (yay!), I’ll have a few minutes to sit and breathe and pull myself together, take a look at my notes, rehearse in my head whatever I might be planning to say. At the very least, I’ll come across as more relaxed, which always creates a better impression on others.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under simplicity

2 responses to “A life with broad margins

  1. Pingback: If time is money, then I’m less frugal than I thought! « frugalC

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