Swipe Left

The amount of emails I fired off this afternoon during Bee’s nap: 19.

For an accurate portrait of most anyone’s current life priorities, you need only check their sent mail. What gets forwarded? What warrants a reply? What messages are so top of mind that they require a clicking of the “Compose” button, a sending of multiple exclamation points, of questions, of clarity?

And yet, for an even more accurate portrait of most anyone’s current life priorities, you need only check something else: their trash.

Swipe left.

I’ve been in a delete-delete-delete phase for seemingly forever. I’m a ruthless inbox manager, unsubscribing from newsletters, sales, promotions as if I’m taking a weed whacker to the backyard. Quick, swift, painless, gone.

What’s left is today’s portrait, a current sliver of our lives:
-A barrage of adoption research, of preference clarifications, of volleys with our agency, all hope-filled and question-marked.
-An endless pile of book-related plans, on edits and design revisions and endorsements and launch teams, equally hope-filled and question-marked.
-Conversations with readers, hearts connecting throughout a million miles over a shared curiosity of goat cheese, of words, of design, of God. Of course, hope-filled and question-marked.

The amount of emails I fired off this afternoon during Bee’s nap: 19.
How many contained question marks? 19.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the question marks. It’s easy to glance at our inbox, to see nothing but questions-questions-questions, to see nothing but what is required of you, what is expected of you and for you, and to think that perhaps this is it. Perhaps we are only our answers. Perhaps we are but a sum of our swipe lefts, of our 19 messages, of our weed whacked newsletters.

But sometimes, a toddler stumbles into the living room, early in the afternoon, and says she is having trouble sleeping.

Can I come sit with you?

This is a question I can answer.

I have always been a proponent of compartmentalization in my own work life. I rise early, sneak out to the coffee shop before anyone awakes, steal away for a yoga class on my way home and – boom – I pull into the garage by 10am and it’s as if I never left.

But lately, I’ve felt grounded here. I’ve felt quiet here. I’m feeling a push to sleep in, to stay put, to soak in these long afternoon hours at home, watching the sunlight arrive in tiny patches along the (badly in need of dusting) credenza, hot coffee mug nearby, art magazines at the ready, just me and the day and my thoughts and my typing.

Can I come sit with you?

Sure.

I’ve been letting her see me work. I’ve been letting her see me wrestle with these questions, hoping to find answers, struggling when I don’t, celebrating when I do. She’ll be 4 soon, and she has questions of her own, and we might as well navigate the waters together, I suppose.

A few months ago, we switched WiFi systems. Our Internet had been going in and out, generally in the most inopportune times (Skype meeting with my publisher for me, Mary Poppins on Spotify for Bee), and we did some research (more question marks) and landed on this system. We installed it days later, and have been happily plugged in since.

It works great when it’s on, but it works even better when it’s off – eero allows you to customize a set schedule for each device including Internet pauses, screen time breaks, usage limitations.

Swipe left.

Can I come sit with you?

Absolutely.

In these grand days of multi-tasking, of working-from-home, of ruthless inbox management, of endless question marks, we all need a bit of pause. We all need a bit of swipe left.

Are you sending peace mails? she asks.

Emails, yes, I say.

Want to look at cat pictures when you’re done? she asks.

The amount of emails I fired off this afternoon during Bee’s nap: 19.
The amount of emails I fired off this afternoon once she awoke: 0.

The amount of question marks left unanswered? All but the ones that mattered most.

 

This essay was written for eero, a genius wireless system for modern families. You can try it right here; dead zones be gone!

  • Well, since we gave up the nap long ago (oh, how I miss thee!), he usually sees me doing chores. Since he’s almost 4 too, he’ll get his own chores soon and together we’ll learn the art of work before play. Most of the time. = )

    • Ha, the nap, the nap! Bring back the nap! (Also, amen to doing his own chores!!! Bee’s currently mastering the art of t-shirt folding and my goodness, it’s surprisingly helpful! So bizarre when toddler help becomes helpful, yes?) ;)

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