Fathers Day, Dolce Fa Niente and how to be a tennis champion.

June 17, 2012 in Everybody Else, Expectations, Life, Weekend

It’s Sunday. Fathers Day.

I’m sure it’s no surprise when I tell you I find myself alone this Sunday afternoon. It’s actually my second day of my being in this state – alone, with my own company. Thankfully where I live, It’s officially a GORGEOUS weekend, high of 79 degrees, sun is shining, humidity is low, and the breezes are constant as they flow through every open window of our home. I enjoy my morning coffee while sitting in the sun, feeling the warmth on my face. As I listen to the suburban drone of mowers, I am transported back in time, my teenage years, when the experience of what ‘being home’ meant revolved around family and ritualistic routine.

Few hours earlier, round the 7 o’clock hour, my husband is restless, getting ready for work, knowing where he’s going to be in relation to the beauty of this day. Familiar with his current state, I am conscious not to poke him with the fact that I’ll be home, enjoying this freedom while he’s unbearably hot in the kitchen, moving from behind the line to orchestrating the line, while serving 800 covers for well deserving fathers this day.

As I hear his motorcycle drift off into the distance, I am reminded of the tennis match I will most likely play again today, like I did yesterday. This match residing solely in my head.

I spent most of the previous day in silence, moving from comfy chairs inside and outside the house, happily devouring to completion chef Gabrielle Hamiltons’ amazing book “Blood Bones and Butter” . She sucked me in quickly and left me, standing on the corner…wanting to hail a cab to her, to find out what’s happened since she finished typing the last page.  While I was reading,  I felt twinges of guilt that I “should” be doing something – obligatory errands, grocery shopping, working on my business, ANYTHING BUT what I find myself doing then and there, but like the snap of a rubber band on my skin, my mind flashes to the moment in “EAT PRAY LOVE” when a frazzled Elizabeth Gilbert attempts the practice of “Dolce Fa Niente” which means ‘The sweetness of doing nothing”.

‘It’s okay to do nothing’, I tell myself.

It doesn’t mean I’m lazy.

Seeing as how I don’t have children as of yet, my weekend does not yet consist of non stop movement and unrest, finding creative ways to tell dad how much we care this fathers day weekend, and instead I am at the whim of my imagination for these 48 hours. I imagine if I did have little ones, I would be spending Saturday knee deep in crayola drawings and sentimental expressions of love and gratitude. As an extreme planner by nature, having a weekend with nothing ‘on the books’ is both unusual and therefore uncomfortable to experience.

So, like a nagging grandmother, reminding me of how lucky I am not to have to walk five miles in the snow to school, the tennis match begins…

“If only I was so lucky to have a day to myself without the children around, I wouldn’t be wasting it sitting around.” as I hear the voices of imaginary significant others who are mamas reminding me how ‘lucky’ I am.

Yes, I know…I have it easy.” is how I imagined myself to respond, while keeping to myself “Does that mean I’m not woman enough, worthy enough to enjoy this time doing what I want?”

Even my husband, who cannot sit still for even a second…is uncomfortable with my lack of plans and I hear him too, in my head, giving me suggestions and ideas of what I can or “should” be doing on this beautiful weekend. Getting the sense that HERE would be the last place he would be if he didn’t have to work. (And it’s true… it is the last place he’d be unless if it was from extreme exhaustion or illness)

Again… I know. I say to him in my mind while rolling my eyes thinking, ‘I’m not you, my love. Unlike you, I enjoy and VALUE the presence of my own company.’

Like a skipping record in my mind, I considered, over and over again, making plans. “Who could I call to hang out with?”, was my uncomfortable mantra.

But like a toddler throwing a tantrum, no matter how many times they yell or cry or pound their hands and feet on the ground, shouting what they want. I remained steadfast in my mental response…

NO. Stay where you are. You’re OKAY doing this today.

Back and forth it went. It would temporarily stop until I’d pick my nose up from my book, haphazardly look at the time, see that two hours passed and then the match would resume.

“You’re lazy. What’s wrong with you? Wasting your day READING. Why aren’t any of your girlfriends calling you? Maybe they don’t want to hang out with YOU, ever think of that?”

And then, repeatedly having to talk myself off from that ledge.

NO, You’re okay where you are.

Today, the match resumed as my own fathers day plans fell through, but today, this match was different, having already finished Gabrielles work of literary art, I am now nearing the end of my plan-less weekend, and in process of savoring these last hours as something to look back on as a pleasant memory.

Except if I were being honest, it wasn’t all pleasant.

That tennis match is something we ALL play in our heads. The “should we/shouldn’t we” game when we go, round after round, looking over our shoulder, wondering what decision to make. Leaving us to feel, whichever our decision was (to plan or not to plan) a bit confused, tired and uneasy, never really achieving peace with either decision.

The way one would feel after a tennis match.

From this experience, I have surmised that the way to tell which voice to listen to is the one that brings you PEACE.

I felt PEACE diving into this book, was totally IN the story she was telling… the reason why hours passed without notice is because in that moment I was at PEACE.

When I didn’t feel peace, I was listening to the other voice – telling me what I “should’ve been doing” or how bad I should feel – in those moments I was aware of every single minute.  Dragging on.

I take this experience with me as I make my next decisions… being more conscious which voice I should listen to. And as a question to ask as you too, play a game of tennis in your mind.

  • How would your life change if you made decisions and listened to the voice inside you that brought you PEACE?
  • How can you be OKAY being where you ARE, no matter what the voices (In your life, or in your head) are saying?