Friday, January 8, 2010

Remorse over letting a beautiful day get away

I can’t help feeling like I blew it yesterday. And as trivial a matter as it was, I can’t stop feeling remorseful about it today.

I went out for my daily run at about 10 AM and did a short one, just barely over the minimum mile necessary to maintain my daily running streak. At this time of year, with six inches or more of snow on the ground, it’s hard to do much more than a mile with the dog because the footpaths aren’t cleared and I don’t feel safe running with her on the road, so up and down our long common driveway is about the best I can do.

But it was a sparkling sunny day, not as chilly as earlier in the week, and as I finished up my 15 minutes of running, I found myself thinking, “This is the kind of day that would be perfect for snowshoeing.”

But I didn’t go snowshoeing, and that’s the source of the remorse: because there was simply no reason not to. I had a couple of deadlines to meet but knew I could wrap them up shortly after noon, if I put in a little extra effort. The kids were at school and no one needed me home. There was no reason not to agree with myself immediately and put a plan into action: “Yes, this would be a perfect day for snowshoeing, so let me just finish those two articles and take care of that 12:00 conference call and then I’ll go!”

What really bothers me about it is that I can think of so many times when I’ve had similar impulses but following through simply wasn’t the viable option that it was yesterday. When I was working full-time, I would often look out the window and think “If only I didn’t have to be in this horrid office building, I’d go for a long walk.” When I was a stay-at-home mom with small children, I’d think “If I didn’t have a baby to care for today, I’d go out and enjoy the beautiful weather, but it’s too cold to bundle her up, and I’m not really sure I can manage snowshoes with a baby in a backpack on my back…” Back when I lived in a different town, I would think “If only I lived in a beautiful place with fields and woods for tromping through, I’d go snowshoeing on a day like this.” But now I do, and I still wasn’t heading out. And even as I thought about those real-life situations, I could imagine other, worse situations in which one might look out the window and dream of snowshoeing in the bright sunlight: from a hospital room while watching over a sick family member, for example. Or from prison.

And none of those was the case yesterday. Not only was I not in prison or intensive care, I didn’t even have to wait for a repair person to show up or take part in a conference call that couldn't be rescheduled. I had at least two hours, maybe more, when not a soul in the world would have been negatively impacted if I’d walked out of the house and cut across the fields in my snowshoes. The dog would have loved it; I would have felt good for the rest of the day for having gotten in an extra workout. My endorphins would have been soaring all afternoon, and quite likely in the meditative silence I would have come up with a new article possibility or essay idea that could have been fruitful to future work.

But it didn’t happen. I have no excuse; it just didn’t happen. I went back inside after my short run and started e-mailing and copy-editing and doing other things that did not absolutely have to be done on the sunniest, most beautiful January day of the season. And I’ve regretted it ever since.

It’s so easy to stagnate, to submit to the lure of inertia, and sit down indoors rather than strap on the snowshoes. But there are days like yesterday that truly feel like once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Today is grayer, with light snow falling, but I’m going to try to get out anyway. I feel like I owe it to the universe to get out there today, to appreciate the opportunity and to try to make up for the one perfect day yesterday that I let get away for no good reason whatsoever.

1 comment:

  1. That is a tough one. I too succumb to inertia and kick myself later for not having mustered up the energy to go do something that would have made me feel better afterwards.

    The good thing is, there will be more days like you describe, and next time you'll remember how you felt worse for not having done it (which will hopefully help you overcome the resistance to getting on the snowshoes and getting bundled up and leaving your warm cozy house and "getting thing done" behind for a little bit.)