I am only one person, but in my one little life, the more unstructured time I have, the wealthier and happier I feel. This trend is irrespective of what’s in my bank account. The year before I was published, I was broke-broke-broke. I’d scavenged every quarter from between the couch cushions, clipped every coupon in captivity (which made for some interesting menus), and was rationing my gas, my heat, and other necessities.
Which is to say, I was living the way most people have to live all the time.
I was happier than a hog in slop. Part of my cash crunch was because work was s-l-o-w and so I had a lot of free time on my hands. A friend asked me to ghost write a book (Yippee! Groceries!), which project enthralled me. We had a lot of bad weather, so access to the office was even more curtailed, and I had Works In Progress (WIPS) burbling along at a great rate.
And VERY little structure.
When I get a week off of court now, the same sense of glee overcomes me: Recess!
It isn’t recess. I’m writing, revising, or researching at least twelve hours a day, looking after the house, and tending to other obligations. I’m working my behonkis off, but without reference to anybody else’s schedule, space, or priorities.
I understand that not everybody is like me. My former spouse finds comfort in rules and routine. He posited at one point before we married that we ought to talk by phone every night at 10 pm. He intended this as a way to stay connected, a reliable moment in our long and varied days when we could be available to each other.
I tried. I made the calls so he wouldn’t wake Beloved Offspring or interrupt the bedtime routine. I dutifully played How Was Your Day Dear, and I understood the process had some benefit to him.
I came to loathe that call, to loathe one more obligation at the end of a day of relentless obligations. I came to view the phone call as Former Spouse’s mechanism for assuring himself he was “close” to his girlfriend, when in fact the call symbolized to me a lack of regard for how shredded I was.
This insight came in hindsight, of course. Opposites do attract, because they make a strong team if they can work out their complementary strengths and weaknesses.
My tolerance for structure created by other people is abysmal. I do not fathom how sane people can function as teachers, with lesson plans, objectives, milestones, and endless evaluations. I’m even more in awe of accountants and auditors, and there is just no explaining to me how bank tellers can smile at me, year after year, as I walk up to them in their cages with the same transactions to be handled the exact some way.
Where on this continuum do you fall? Are you comforted by the rules and happy in a routine, or do they chafe? If you’ve chosen a partner whose approach to structure is different from yours, how do you work it out so there’s peace in the valley?
To one commenter below, I’ll send a SIGNED copy of Cathy Maxwell’s wonderful Regency, “The Seduction of Scandal.”