Tag Archive: busyness

Cutting Ambition Down to Size

GinsuMy Facebook status update for today is: “Melia wants just one moment without ambition.” What would it feel like, I wonder, to be completely content with something that’s merely good, rather than great? I honestly can’t imagine. When faced with any task, I feel compelled to do it as well as it can humanly be done, and I’m constantly surprised when it ends up making me unhappy. Here are just a few pieces of evidence.

Exhibit A: Girls’ Dinners. My girlfriends and I have regular dinners where we take turns cooking for each other. When it’s my turn, a simple idea like “Spanish food” grows into a culinary tour through the regions of my beloved España. The meal might begin with a three-cheese plate served with a baguette and red wine from the Penedès region, followed by a tortilla española and sautéed spinach with toasted pine nuts and plump raisins, culminating in a dessert of flan drizzled with caramel sauce. As you’d expect, I always run out of time and end up ignoring my friends while rushing to prepare this type of gourmet meal on my own. I use every dish in the house and most likely end up flipping the tortilla onto the floor, blackening the pine nuts, and realizing too late that the flan needs to be chilled for an hour before serving. Then I proceed to pout throughout the meal while my friends assure me that it’s delicious. ¡Que aproveche! Bon appetit!


My Day of Doing “Nothing”

I am writing from the same couch where you could have found me over 24 hours ago, wearing the same pajamas. I haven’t showered or put in my contact lenses, and I have crossed off a grand total of one item — a brief phone call — from my Saturday To-Do list.

To my usual self, it would appear that I have done nothing today. My usual self would be annoyed about all the items left for tomorrow. It would sigh and fret over the opportunities missed by spending a full day vegging out. My enlightened self, on the other hand, that fleeting self that I’m always chasing, knows that I’ve accomplished a lot more in my day of doing nothing than one would think.

If it weren’t for my throbbing headache, the one that has stayed with me on and off for days, I would have gone through with the day’s agenda. I would have walked over to the Carnaval parade before going to the bank, two grocery stores, and the gym. I would have done the sinkful of dirty dishes and vacuumed the rug, then would have driven an hour to a friend’s graduation party. I might have then stopped by another friend’s birthday at a beach located an hour in the other direction before driving home. But my headache kept me glued to the couch, too exhausted even to get up and brush my teeth.

I almost never get headaches, but for the past couple of months a potpourri of health issues has started cropping up, practically a new one each day. It’s like the menu du jour in hell: “What’ll it be today: the cracked lips or the numb toes?” I know that I’d be healthy if I could just listen to my body’s needs, sleeping when I’m tired and exercising when I’m restless instead of pushing through physical fatigue in order to do more. I pulled an all-nighter last Wednesday to complete a copywriting assignment, and at 5 a.m. the anxious tightness in my chest that has been growing for months screamed at me, “You need to stop and breathe!” But I could not take a full breath, and being on deadline, I ignored my body’s warning signals and soldiered on.

I’ve been this way since I was little, not wanting to miss out on anything, trying to cram as much activity into a day as humanly possible. My mom loves to remind me of how, as a toddler at naptime, I’d tell her, “I’m not tired! I don’t want a nap! I—” and fall asleep mid-sentence. There’s even a photograph of me (see above) reading two books at once with a bottle dangling from my mouth, eyes at half-mast, my mind fighting off the sleep my body knows it needs.