Unexpected Hour

My calendar is a problem. Most mornings stack up with appointments and to-dos, so that I am deciding whether I need to go to this meeting, take that call, or respond to the flaming email that just arrived. It isn’t really about having too much to do, it’s about everything I have to do sitting in a heap rather than waiting in a nice orderly line for me to do it. It gets hard to think in all that mess.

Sometimes, though, the mess clears. Today I had a personal appointment cancelled, leaving me free to get to work on time (miracle of miracles), and then my late morning task turned out to take less time that I had planned for. And there it was, a great shining blank block in my calendar: an unexpected stretch of un-programmed time. A gift of the calendar gods.

What do you do with an unexpected hour?

Maybe I should have done something practical and productive with my hour, like made sure I’ve responded to all my emails or checked to see if there is some stinky, stealthy item on my to-do list that I’ve been avoiding. But that would be like buying underwear and socks with the Amazon gift card my mom gave me for my birthday. It wouldn’t be in keeping with the spirit of the thing. Don’t buy socks, my mom would say. That isn’t special.

These blocks of time arrive unexpectedly – the meeting rescheduled, the trip cancelled, the workshop falling through. You could fill the time with more of what you do every day, more socks and underwear. But you could also listen to mom, and treat the gift as special.

What did I do with today’s gift from the calendar gods? Wrote this blog, of course. But I could have asked a colleague to go get coffee, or to talk about writing a paper together. Or I could have sat at my table alone to read something interesting, and actually think about it.

Not socks and underwear. Chocolate.



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