By Martha Reed
My creative writing is probably the most vital thing I do but every once in awhile I have to remember that it’s not all that I do. In between those glorious and rare hours of creative time I have to squeeze in a 40-hour work week (day job, pays the bills), maintain a home and support the needs of my family and friends to the best of my ability. Sometimes, fulfilling these needs is easy and sometimes … not so much. The trick is – and this is one of the things I’m constantly re-learning – how to find the right amount of balance.
My usual pattern is straight arrow; I set a goal and keep to it until it gets done. This is all well and good as long as I remember – occasionally – to stray from the path. Luckily, I have a couple of terrific sisters who offer world-class distraction. For instance, yesterday, my sister Joan suggested that we ride our bikes from Aspinwall into town (6 miles) to catch the Pirates game against Chicago. The trip dahntahn was fantastic, the bike path (except for a nasty gravely bit near the railroad tracks in Etna) smooth going. We made short work of the trip, settled into our bleacher seats, doffed our Memorial Day gimme caps to the National Anthem and then … it started to rain.
And I don’t mean to suggest a gentle Spring shower. It started pouring buckets out there. For hours. Until the creeks overflowed their banks and the lightening flashed around our heads. Best of all, by the eighth inning, we realized that we got to ride our bikes home in it.
Actually, the trip home turned out to be pretty cool, although Joan nervously asked me twice if we were safe. I repeated the old saw: “We should be safe enough. We’re riding on rubber tires” and both sisters bought into it. (I’m not sure if that statement is true or not but it sounded convincing enough at the time). The other lesson I learned yesterday is that there was a reason they used to put fenders on bikes way back when before we paved the roads – because each of us earned a skunk’s tail of mud up our backs by the time we got home. Personally, I don’t think my Bucco’s shirt is ever going to come clean again.
But my point is that when I closed my manuscript document at 11AM for the day, checking out early from my usual routine, I felt a little guilty about it. But now, after such a fun-filled day, spent sharing quality time with both my sisters, I realized that it was just what I needed – a holiday break – and when I sit back down first thing tomorrow I’ll feel brighter and fresher and ready to tackle the next chapter.
And that was my final lesson of the day – to remember what a holiday is for and not just use it to catch up on chores. I need to remember the hard work is always there and it’s up to us to remember to play just as hard, too, because that’s where the fun is.