Friday morning was a snapshot of perfection: connection with an old-new friend, creamy mochas from Piccinos, and a walk down to AT&T park in the gritty Dogpatch sunshine. We pushed Cancan’s stroller over railway crossways and along bumpy, weed-filled paths, yelling over the grind of construction, then pausing to silently stare at the sparkling San Francisco bay water.
And with this old-new friend – you know, one of those people whom you’ve known of for awhile, but haven’t ever intentionally spent time with – as we let the rhythm of conversation take its course, the topic of margins seemed to weave its way in and out of most every one of our steps.
What does it mean to create margins, leaving room for space in our lives?
One year when I was teaching a class called AVID, the school required that we teach all high school freshmen Cornell notes, a note-taking technique in which equal one-inch margins were left around every edge of the paper, along with double-spaced notations. To someone who, in her high school and college note-taking days, endeavored to stay true to her Oregonian reduce-reuse-recycle paper-saving ways, this seemed a major waste of space (okay, and ultimately, trees), but I did what I was told, and instead did my part by saving any misguided pieces of wide-ruled paper from the trash can.
But here’s the thing: those notes naturally created both space and border. Without reading the actual content, it was clear, just by looking at a single piece of paper, that margin was born, and margin, if one were to look in Webster’s, includes the intersection of boundaries and play. How then can we apply these truths to our own lives?
In ministry, it was necessary to create pockets of availability. I wanted to be able to say Yes, yes I can, letting a meeting run past its original allotment of time, or having the freedom to take a kid to bubble tea with a spur of the moment’s notice. I delighted when dropping off supplies for club that night ended with an hour’s visit – just because I could, because space had already been created in the schedule.
Now, almost four months later, I sometimes feel like I have nothing but space in my life – and while this looks dreamy from the outside, I still have to intentionally practice creating both space and borders in the everyday.
As much as I’d sometimes like to, I can’t schedule each minute of the day, because then I’m not giving Cancan the rest he needs at home, on his own turf. So I break the day into three portions: morning, afternoon and evening, and of the first two, I make sure I’m home for at least one of them.
I find that I need to leave room for the come what may, for those last minute invitations to the park or to the local frozen yogurt shop. I also need space for silence and creativity, letting healing run its course as I process and rest and think and get to know myself in the midst of the current journey.
And while it’s tempting to then fill up my time with checking tasks off the endless to-do list or mindlessly browsing the internet, I physically practice shutting the computer. Little Man and I open the creaky garage door, and we go for a walk, exploring new territories of the neighborhood, letting the wheels of the stroller be our guide.
Bob Goff calls it quitting Thursdays: he quits something every Thursday, so that more room for margin might be left in his life. I love that.
What, in your life, sucks up your time, eating away at otherwise valuable time that could be spent in loving another person or yourself? How do you need to create margins and what do you need to quit, so that whimsy and possibility and life may come in?
I’m asking myself these questions, and daring you to do the same. Your thoughts? Let’s converse!