Last night I was feeling poor. Dirt poor. Meanly poor. But not because of anything so mundane as money. While rarely flush with funds, I usually have money pay the bills and keep the wolf from the door, and that is enough for me.
No, I was feeling poor because of time. Or, to be more precise, the lack of time.
I recently realized that I feel poorest when my schedule gets blocked up and the demands on my time rise to threatening levels. I can be so broke that I am shaving slivers off of pennies, but still feel wealthy beyond all measure because there is food on the table, a roof overhead, a cadre of wonderful friends, and a warm and loving marriage to sustain me. But squeeze my time - layer too many demands on top of my too few hours - and I am suddenly keeping company with Ma Joad.
Sarah Crewe at her lowest point in the attic garret has nothing on me.
Last night was one of those nights. The holidays are upon us and there are rooms to clean, food to prep. There are plates to wash. There was a press release to write. I'd spent most of my day at the courthouse, each meeting taking far longer than I had budgeted in my head, resulting in my arriving home after 5:00 instead of after 3:00. No one had planned supper. We had to run to the store for fresh vinegar to finish the coleslaw as the old bottle had gone flat.
After the vinegar expedition, I announced loudly (to no one in particular as Warren was upstairs) that I was not washing the plates, and then slammed a package extra hard on the kitchen counter for added emphasis.
It was a perfectly childish gesture that felt wickedly good.
I quickly wrote the press release. Then, in an absolute fit of self-indulgence, I watched "Frontline" on PBS, thus causing my annual rate of television consumption to shoot through the roof for 2010.
I am writing this on Wednesday evening. Today dawned bright and clear in my heart, if not outside the window. Patricia and I went walking; Judy and I had coffee. Then I came home and turned my hand to the household and to Thanksgiving preparations. I have baked pumpkin and apple pies today. The plates, some of which will appear on tomorrow's table, got washed throughout the afternoon as I tended to the pies. Loaves of bread are rising as I finish this post.
There is no less work to do today than there was last night, but today I have set my pace and I have spent my hours as I saw fit.
And for that I am truly thankful.