03 September 2013


Hey, where did August go? All of a sudden it's September, and I haven't written a blog post in almost a month. That's the second time this year a month has gone missing on me - I lost May, too. First it was April, and then, I could have sworn not much more than a couple of weeks later, it was the middle of June. It's like that odd character in the equally odd movie adaptation of Five Children and It, the strange uncle played by Kenneth Branagh. He loses a Thursday in that movie. Well, it happens, you know.

But actually, to be honest, I do know what happened to August. Holidays happened. Company, and road trips to be company; and then of course peaches and salsa and relish happened, too (pears and pesto are still forthcoming). And I read P. D. James (who isn't nearly as gritty and disturbing as I remembered from the first book of hers I read), and watched movies, and went places and saw things with company and as company. And between all of that, there was no space left for blogging. Oh, sure, I could have made myself do it - there was the odd blank space in the margin of my life that didn't have anything scribbled on it. But quite apart from the fact that after all the term paper writing I did in July I had a mild case of writer's fatigue, I needed to keep those margins blank.

Because the thing is, a person needs margins in their life. There needs to be space around the edges of the sheet of things you've got to do. Because if there isn't, if you cram your life so full of doings that you live it right to the edge, when something extra drops into the middle you get pushed right off the rim. Splat. When you work right to the limit of your capacity, all day and every day, then any crisis, perhaps even a minor one, will send you spiralling into a meltdown. If you spend right to the edge - energy or money, it's all the same - you might find yourself suddenly clinging desperately to a narrow rim which is all that is left to hold onto.  No margins are not a healthy way to live.

Now, I know that there are times when you simply can't help it, when your sheet, or your plate, as it were, is full right to the edge through no doing of your own. But I do think that more often than not we can help it. We make choices about what else we pile on that plate or scribble on that sheet. Writing into the margin is something we decide to do, because we figure that (for whatever reason) the thing we're putting down is more important than having that extra space to absorb unforeseen stress. God knows, I've done it so many times. And fallen off the edge with just a little extra push from the middle. It's not a good thing, trust me. Quite apart from the pain of hitting the ground, once you're splattered on the floor, you get nothing else done - so then what have you achieved with your overcramming of your life?

So I don't want to live like that any more. I want to keep margins in my life, some blank spaces around the edge. Keep the middle to the middle, fill it with only those things that really are important. And I want to do that before life forces me to do it through illness or loss or any other nasty ways that it could possibly do that. The stuff in the middle, that's important, but we need the margins to keep the middle in place. With margins, a crisis can be handled - without them, it becomes a catastrophe.

Life, the Universe, and Margins. I'm going to leave some blank around those edges of my life.

1 comment:

  1. I like the thought of margins. I've been trying to do that lately, too. Happy September!