What do you do when your get-away weekend in Italy falls through and you want to stop feeling sad that your opera ticket’s going to waste?
- Think of the weekend as a surprise weekend in London, not a lost weekend in Italy. I was tempted to treat it like a “normal” weekend, feeling harried to run errands, catch up on work, and try to squeeze in some fun. But it occurred to me that I already had not planned to do any of those things, and there was no reason to feel any pressure to do them now — anything that I did manage to get done was essentially a windfall. So I set my own agenda based on what I thought would make me happiest.
- Sleep. I went to bed early and got up early, and in between I slept better than I have for months. Seriously. I use a sleep tracking app that measures sleep quality, and last night I got 95% which is the highest score since I started using it last summer.
- Accomplish things. In the past two days, I (1) paid off all of my student loans; (2) turned in the last of the paperwork for my US tax return; (3) went to the gym; (4) cleared out my work email inbox; (5) polished my shoes; (6) successfully mailed my first letter through the Royal Mail; (7) bought a set of plates that have been calling to me for weeks. Some of these things were big, some were mundane, and the plates at least were probably frivolous. But I still feel like I accomplished something.
- Go to the Churchill War Rooms. Now’s a good a time as any to see the Churchill War Rooms (in fact, probably better than later when all the tourists will be here). They’re a warren of rooms in the basement of a grand government building, and they’ve been preserved remarkably well since the war. Apparently when the war was over, folks just got up and walked out and left them basically untouched since then.They also have an annex with a museum on the life of Winston Churchill. What a strange and remarkable man. Terrific as a war leader but kind of middling (or at least polarizing) at the rest. Except for language. He was a master of the English language and I may have a sort of literary crush on him. My favorite quote? “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm.”
- Watch movies. This being Oscar weekend, all the cool cinemas were playing the nominated movies. I saw Darkest Hour to keep the Churchill theme, and Lady Bird because it’s a good story about growing up and learning to appreciate your mom.
I’m headed back to the airport in the morning for a week-long business trip to Luxembourg. I’m not really looking forward to it — work has been a bit of a slog lately — but I feel much better going into it after this weekend than I think I otherwise would have. It was good to really be aware of the choices I have in how I spend my time. When each choice feels intentional, I feel more balanced and under control. I wonder how much of this I can preserve in “normal” life?