Thursday, January 30, 2014

End of January Reflection: Pajama Party

On one of these recent cold days when school was cancelled, I invited grandson Peter to come for a Pajama Party. Maren was going to a friend's house for the day, but Pete was mine for the day. Daughter Kate on her way to work delivered him still in his pajamas and once out of all his outerware, he added his robe and slippers. I was in my pajamas, too, of course. With temperatures well below zero, we weren't going anywhere all day! 

What's a Pajama Party?
Pete asked what we do at a Pajama Party, and I told him we can do whatever we want, as long as we stay cozy in our 'jams. "Cozy" is one of his favorite words, and he then knew exactly what he wanted to do. "Build a fort." 

Since the dining room didn't yet have a table, I arranged four of the chairs and found a duvet to cover them with and voila, Pete had a fort. He and his special buddy, Wolfie, cuddled under the fort, telling stories and singing. Later on he brought a project into the fort and then listened as I read a chapter from the book we are currently reading. A cozy pajama day.

First Things First
My inclination all my life has been to have everything in place before I relax, before I have fun, before I write or get together with a friend. The house needs to be in order. I need to have a context in which to carry out all the other aspects of my life. When we moved to Ohio and then to Madison, it was easy to focus on the mission of creating home, for I didn't know anyone. I didn't have a clear plan or direction for what I wanted to do with my days, let alone my life, but this move has been very different. And finally, perhaps, I am learning to flow, to enjoy the mix, to shift gears, to even thrive in the midst of the unfinished.

This seems so basic, doesn't it? But it is a lesson I have needed to learn over and over, and these past weeks have given me lots of opportunities to deepen my learning.

Life Doesn't Wait
I'm not suggesting that I need to bend or give in to someone else's priorities. It doesn't mean that what I want is unimportant and can be blithely discarded. No, this is about paying attention, waking up. Peter isn't going to stay 5 years old while I arrange the bookshelves. My father at age 90 is not going to always be available for lunch. Maren, age 11, won't always be available for a Saturday morning event.  

And so Pete and I had a Pajama Party. We watched a movie, and put together a mosaic picture of a pirate ship, and made cookies, and read more chapters in a book that is getting very exciting, and we just hung out together. Surprise--I still managed to do some of the things on my list. By the end of the day I had done the laundry and changed our bed, and cleaned a bathroom, and paid bills and filed a bunch of papers and posted several items on Craigslist. I wrote emails and read several chapters in a Barbara Pym book I am rereading and made notes for this blog post. I ended the day by meditating. 

Here's what Bernie Glassman says in his book Instructions to the Cook, A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters:
          Usually, we function with a split between what we want
          to do and what we're actually doing, between what we
          wish we had and what we have. This division creates
          a loss of time and energy, and that loss actually wears
          us down. Since the mind wants something other than
          what's happening, it creates the delusion that there's
          not enough time or that time is running out.

          But when we eliminate the gap between our 
          expectations and what we'e doing, our energies
          all go into what we're doing at the moment. We're
          not wasting our energy on what we think we should
          be doing. At that point, all of a sudden, the notion
          of time disappears. It's no longer a question of having
          not enough time or a lot of time. The very notion of time,
          duration or interval, is gone.

          The magic secret is to do just one thing at a time. 

I will say this, however, I can do just as much wearing my pajamas as I can when fully dressed. 

An Invitation
Do you need a Pajama Party in your life? Does your feelings about not having enough time get in the way of living fully? How have you dealt with time issues in your life? Join the conversation. 


  1. I think of this as always remembering the "Big Picture." What memories do I want that will help feed my soul? Is it that extra half hour of study time for a test (that I probably already studied enough for) or is it time for lunch and connection with a friend?

    1. You are so right. The Big Picture view is often just what is needed! Thanks for your comment.


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