On Not Getting It All Done

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

No, I didn’t make these amazing sweet cookies that look like savory things, but I really, really want to. And I probably won’t.

I am quite sure that I’m not alone when I say my kitchen has been extra busy these days. Even as I write this, several jars of freshly canned fig chutney are lined up on the counter waiting for their labels while a pot of experimental mincemeat simmers on the stove and two sticks of butter slowly soften in a mixing bowl. (It’s that Most Wonderful Time of the Year when one can automatically place two sticks of butter out to soften every morning upon rising, for surely they will be needed before the day is done.) It’s a little crazy, a little stressful, and I love it.

As the solstice draws closer, I like to sink into quiet time, to slow down and unwind some. So the first two weeks of December are usually a wild ride as I rush about to achieve all my hopelessly improvident goals that were innocently dreamed up from the safely of my morning bed, fueled by a cup of strong tea and a lifetime of reading Martha Stewart Living. I actually get to about half of these projects*, but that’s OK. Even half of my extravagant dreaming is more than I can handle and besides, dreaming them up is half the fun.

I confess to some greediness here as well, for I’m reluctant to say no to anything. Meringue mushrooms! Classic sweet cut out cookies that look like savory things! Popcorn and cranberry garlands for the tree! The internet doesn’t help, of course, especially if one wanders into Pinterest-land which is like trying to absorb a decade’s worth of the December issue of Martha all squished into one screen. Best avoid that.

Soon the time will come for me to turn all of this off. Soon I will declare enough, and light a candle, and begin the slow unraveling of solstice. I so look forward to this time, when the sun’s summer roar quiets to a thin, muted shimmer and all the colors soften, and the hush and the wonder and the stillness descend, and all the doing drops into just being. Precious simplicity, subtlety, restraint.

And so it all probably won’t get done. And there will be dreams and ideas and crazy plans left unaccomplished or incomplete. But isn’t that the very definition of a fully lived life? Cups overflowing and all that?

What an enormous privilege it is to experience this full-spectrum of wild dreams and quiet repose, to have the sparkle and the hum and the quiet and the subdued, all rolled up into one human life. To have so much, to have choices, to have the ability to pick it all up and then put it all down, to know both the light and the dark, and to hold them in equal esteem, is a gift.

Blessings flow, truly they do.

* OK. Probably even less than that.