My perfect day: A writer’s response to coaching


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Recently, as part of a coaching exercise, I was asked to describe my perfect day. I was told to “think big.”

I tried.

I tried to imagine myself in exotic locations. I briefly fantasized about being an international spy. But the thing is, everything I need to have a perfect day is in my life right now. Here’s how it goes:

5:15 – 6:30 — Coffee making, writing. Those first few minutes of coffee making are essential, not only because, well, coffee, but because I have to move around a bit to wake up. By the time I sit down to write, I’m still dreamy but awake enough to put my fingers to the keys. And the writing…well, it may be a few sentences, something approaching a paragraph, or a page or few. If I make sure to sit down and do the writing, it doesn’t matter if later I like what I wrote, or whether or not I can use it. The writing itself seems to matter. If I do the writing, I feel as if I’ve done what I supposed to do for the day, even though I still have a full day ahead of me, a full day of other worthy things to do. If I don’t do the writing, I get nervous, petty; I straighten picture frames and start bargaining with presences I can’t name.

6:30 – 8:00 — Kids up and to school. Their faces so soft before I wake them. The idea that there was a time when we weren’t alive together. The freakout over the jeans that didn’t make it into the dryer, the field trip form that must be filled out for that day, digging piggy bank change to pay for the bag lunch, the rising sun in our eyes as we shiver in the car.

8:00 – 9:30 — Exercise, breakfast, shower. I have trained my yellow pound dog Scout not to poop on walks. Why? Because I do not want to carry a bag of shit around with me. If carrying shit were my job — and, well, that description seems to be shorthand for so many jobs, paying or non — then I would carry it proudly. I would try to perfect my shit carrying form. But when I walk for 20 minutes around my pretty, tree-shaded neighborhood, I want to think and I want to look at things that I see every day and try to notice how they are different, and I want to enjoy. I cannot enjoy a walk while carrying shit. Therefore I have trained Miss Scout to poop in the back yard before we go on a walk. She can stop to sniff or pee. But no poop. It’s a deal that seems to have worked out for us.

9:30 – 12:30 — Paying work…that would be Bluespark, a digital agency that designs and builds elegant, supremely functional websites. The most amazing team of people I’ve ever worked with. I mean, you could not give a fig about web development, but if you met any of these sweet, funny, driven geniuses, you’d want to figure out a way to work with them.

12:30 – 1:30 — Lunch, maybe an errand, maybe if the weather’s nice a few minutes sitting on the stoop and looking across the street at the pond (ok technically a lake for geological reasons I can’t call up right at this moment). But very pond-like. As in small. And lovely.

1:30 – 5:30 ish — More good stuff with the Bluespark team and clients. Also, between 3:45 and 4:15, my two daughters come home from school. I work from home, so I see them arrive from my perch near the front windows. I know how lucky I am to see them, how much they have made me who I am, how few days I have left to watch them walk up the driveway, backpacks slung over their shoulders, brown hair gold-threaded in the afternoon light. I am already missing them, already urging them on.

5:30 ish to 9:30 — Dinner, homework help as needed, showers, reading, cuddling, fighting sleep when I lie down with my younger one so I won’t pass out with my contacts still in.

9:30 – 10 ish — Getting ready for bed, reading a few lines or a few pages, drifting off, maybe thinking about a scene I’m working on, hoping my dream mind might guide me a bit on what the heart of that moment is, and what is at stake,

So there you have it, my perfect day. Nothing extravagant or suspenseful, no real variance from the routine.

And that’s the point.

This day contains everything I care about. My family, my writing work, my paying work — which also offers many channels of creativity and communion with interesting people — everything in my life that I love.

If I were able to ask for more days, I would ask for days like these. These days — while my body and mind are still strong and healthy, while I get to see my children every day, while I can push past that morning fog and take that leap of faith and write a sentence. Then another one.

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