I have 100+ emails to answer/ignore/trash on my Gmail app. Sixty-five on my Mailbox app. Technically, I have six email accounts. Actually, it’s seven; I forgot about the one for my job. Well, one of my jobs. I have two. Both are part time but essentially full time with all the extra shifts I take on. So one and a half full time jobs. Plus the projects, the other things I dip my hands and heart in. Multiple writing commitments, personal and professional. Then there’s editing work for Bedlam Magazine and an Etsy shop. Three social media accounts to manage. A relationship, but long distance, which I’ve been told gives me more free time to fill. Oh, and an online book club.

People might look at that and think it’s too much. Others might compare it to their own schedule and say mine looks tame, simple, and easily managed.

I look at it and think, “I just want a calm life.”

I want quiet evenings and lingering mornings. I want hours of silence, walks outside, and afternoons spent in comfy chairs with cups of coffee. I want stacks of books that I work through one by one, never running out. Mostly, I want to write from home every single day. That is my fantasy; the one that gets my blood pumping and heart racing. That is what I would select out of a list of future careers on a college application. To sit at my desk and write my soul onto paper – to type it into existence – that is my dream. I want to write the way my sisters want to teach or be a mother or be a missionary: with my entire being.

This January, I took a trip to Pennsylvania. My last few days there were greeted with snow, inches upon inches that caused a retreat into warm houses. I donned my reading glasses and settled in. I spent my day on the couch, reading one book and then another, switching back and forth, like one would between desserts that are just too perfect… so how could you choose just one? Wrapped up in a blanket, cozy with peace and words, I took my computer onto my lap and wrote in contentment. I wrote and read until it turned dark, but I didn’t notice the dimness of the room until he came home and turned on the light. He kissed me softly, once then twice, and asked if I had a good day. My soul seemed to sigh with happiness as I said “yes” with a hint of a smile.

It was lovely. It was peaceful, and simple, and everything I needed. The quiet brought me rest and the words brought me life. I could spend my days like that for years to come.

But our world is busy, and fast-paced, and caffeinated; mobile phones connecting us with everyone and everything instantly. Thoughts are shared in 140 characters, and we book appointments, set reminders, check our inboxes, and shop as we rush from place to place, eating quickly on the go, barely finding time to have a drink with friends, or plan a date with your loved one, or just catch a movie. Free time is spent organizing or budgeting or cleaning. No minutes are wasted and each is filled, because we are told that is what productivity looks like. Constant movement and action. That is success.

When do we rest? When do our hearts, souls, and minds get a moment to breathe? To replenish and revive?

When did calm and quiet become something to apologize for?

There is beauty in a calm life; a life filled with moments that we take for ourselves to find balance and purpose.

I want to sit with you in a pile of blankets on the couch on a quiet night, drinking wine and eating fancy cheese with bits of fruit, and for you to tell me, “Today I woke up. I took a walk and snapped a few photos. Then I read this amazing book, can I tell you about it?” And I want you to say it without apology. Without an embarrassed shrug that says, “I know, I should have run errands or picked up an extra shift at work, or deep cleaned my kitchen, or done all the laundry in the house, or reorganized the garage and attic and my desk and changed the oil in my car.” I want you to tell me you took a nap without explaining or justifying. I want you to tell me you were painting, or writing music, or reading a magazine, or sitting on the steps of your back porch looking at everything, observing and taking in the fresh air because you can. Because it makes you happy.

I want to say that I was up writing until 4 am, a frenzy of words and ideas spilling out and I had to capture them all, and that I slept until noon and woke up rested…and wore pajamas all day.

And I want us to be able to do this, all of this, without feeling lazy or unproductive or wasteful.

Because somewhere along the way, I think “calm” became a synonym for “lazy”. A word said with a hint of condescension; like when saying quaint or simple, but not in a good way. I believe we’ve suffered because of it.

And I understand that sadly I can’t become a hermit. That I have responsibilities. Yes, I do have a crazy schedule, and there is so much in it that makes my heart happy. But don’t I also have a responsibility to myself? To my heart and soul and what brings me peace? I have a responsibility to my calling and helping it thrive. I have a responsibility to take care of myself. To know when something is too much, and when I need a break to rest.

So take a deep breath and say with me, “I can’t do everything.” Write it down and hold it close and remember that you can’t say “yes” to everything. You can’t take on the world and forget yourself.

On the seventh day, God rested. He stepped back, looked around at the amazing world He has created and saw that it was good. It was beautiful and lovely. And He reveled in that goodness. After six bustling days, He gave Himself a moment of calm to simply enjoy what He had made with His hands. He rested. And I believe He wants that for us.

 

Cassi Clerget

Cassi Clerget is a writer, creative, and the Editorial Director for Bedlam Magazine. She has a BA in history, works in a ceramic studio in Washington state, and is dating a man she met on Twitter. But mostly she watches sci-fi on Netflix, tweets, and drinks coffee. Check out her blog at www.cassiclerget.com and follow her on Twitter at @cassiclerget.

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