I didn’t sleep well last night, so when I did wake up, late, at 9.30am, my first thought was, What’s wrong with you? You’re so lazy. Now you’ll have to start work right away.
I live in a quiet national park in the Canadian Rockies, and work from home as an editor for a travel site for young people. By getting up two hours later than intended, I’d cut out all my pre-work time where – on a good day – I get up and tootle around, drink tea, then go for a walk past the waterfall by the tiny cabin I rent, along the river and out to the nearby lake. Maybe I’ll even try to meditate for a bit (I say ‘try’ because my mind is a crazy monkey being chased by a scorpion even before 9am, even when it hasn’t been near a screen for 8+ hours…I disappoint myself all the time).
Back at the cabin after my walk, I’ll make some porridge then eat it in the chair by the window so I can watch the squirrels and magpies. I’m basically 28 going on 82. I’m not sad about that.
Anyway, my window for calm and stillness had been snatched away by a night of insomnia, and now there was no time for me. Work would fill the next 8 hours, and it’d be dark by the time I’d sent my last email.
My tired body felt terrible, like a kid had been playing the board game Operation with my body parts in the night, so I didn’t much care that I’d be going straight to Internet’s teet instead of outside. Outside sounded like too much work.
Then on the way to the bathroom to brush my teeth, I saw some mule deer out the window. One, two, three…a dozen mule deer eating the crinkled leaves in the yard and up the hill behind the cabin.
Oh, I thought, work can wait.
I wrapped myself up in a blanket, sat cross-legged by the glass door at the back of the house, and watched them. One of the females came so close to the glass that I could see the whiskers around her mouth. I didn’t know mule deer had whiskers till today. For half an hour the deer stayed in the garden; I didn’t move except to make a cup of tea and to grab a notepad and pen so I could try to draw them (I don’t have a phone or a camera or Instagram because I know I’d disappoint myself with how easily addicted I’d be to all those things).
Those deer were a reminder that I should always find time for me, a reminder that it is never a bad thing to just sit and watch the world. What’s outside will always be more interesting and important than the images and sounds a screen can conjure up.
When the mule deer left, I said to myself, What’s five more minutes away from the screen?
I chucked on some jogging bottoms and a jacket and took a short walk to the waterfall and back.
Instead of starting work at 9.30am, I started an hour later. There had been no work emergencies in my short absence. The world had kept spinning.