A long time ago, a teacher at my JC used to urge his students to spend time every week playing. He urged us to take time out to get away from the routine of classes and to clear our minds, whether it was on the basketball court or taking a walk…anything to get us up and out of the routine of study and work.
He told us that the word recreation broke down into “re-creation.” It was what allowed us to re-set our brains and to re-charge our batteries.
Sometimes I forget that lesson. We all do. We go day after day, taking care of our families, doing our jobs, and as writers, agonizing over sales, edits, and producing the next manuscript.
I just spent nearly a week with a friend, taking our semi-annual retreat, holed up in a hotel room, sometimes ordering room service and basically just staying unplugged. We worked…yes. But we also unwound. We confessed our fears to each other, shared our frustrations and listened while the other poured out all the unwritten ideas, the fledging stories we wanted to write and our hopes and our plans for the coming year.
I look back on the week and while I didn’t get as many words written as I’d planned, I came home re-set and ready to go back to work, to grapple with my duties as a caregiver and as a writer. I can look at tomorrow and the next day without flinching. My insomnia is still gripping my nights but I have a new approach that doesn’t involve crying jags or sleeping pills.
Regardless of what you do in your life: if you’re a parent, a writer, a clerk or an executive, it’s imperative to sometimes step back and give yourself that space to regroup and recover. Go to a movie, take a walk, go window shopping or go for a swim. Play. Have fun. Laugh. Hire a baby-sitter, check into a hotel and sleep late.
Dream. Fantasize. Then write down that fantasy and what steps it will take to attain it. That’s when it becomes a goal.
Enjoy your re-creation. Enjoy your life.