Tabula Rasa: The Joy of a Task-Free Day

I was working in the yard the other day and heard the sounds of children laughing joyfully as they ran through the field, slid down the sliding board, swung high into the sky on a swing. I instinctively connected with their laughter as sounds of freedom.

As adults, we are often bombarded with tasks and responsibilities. In fact, isn’t the hallmark of adulthood being able to honor responsibilities? But, how many are enough? Is there not a point when we should begin to peel back the layers of overwork, before we suffer from heart attack, stroke and other maladies of stress? This, of course, is a hot topic and one which concerns most of us as we try to balance the “must-do’s” with the “wanna-do’s” of life.


How does one go about the business of finding freedom? This is a question I posed to myself as I went back to the task of pulling weeds and raking debris left from winter.

I’ve noticed that I have lists everywhere in my life – small slips of paper dot the kitchen counter, piles of them in my car, on my dresser, in my purse. They are harbingers of thought that occur to me that must be captured immediately or risk their flight forever. I attain great satisfaction from crossing items off the list, which means that I’ve been successful. The tasks that I don’t complete get a squiggly line through them, not quite as satisfying. They are like mountain climbers who dangle off the side of a cliff, unsure where to go next or how to get their footing. Sort of like list limbo – do I transpose them to another list for another day, or are they relegated to a state of undone forever? This is my challenge as a list-maker, and I have not yet determined the appropriate course of action for many items.

Freedom for me, then, is the absence of a list. Why torment myself with undone tasks that roam about like zombies with no real place to be? The decision to list or not is entirely mine.

Enter the tabula rasa – the blank slate. If I begin each day with a glorious sheet of shimmering white paper or blemish-free blank screen, can I not go about the day resisting the urge to mar it? Can a successful day be the freedom of a stress-free day?

Even in retirement, I have a planner and a smart phone and all the accoutrements of a working existence. Why do I not give myself the peace of letting go of a life of stress and expectation and accomplishment – and just be?

So, as I returned to my task of gardening, I allowed myself to experience the innate satisfaction of pulling weeds from the soil and creating a space of earth where I could plant flowers and other of Mother Nature’s joy.

My definition of freedom is letting go and breathing in the fresh air. Laughing and loving and making light of the little annoyances that bog me down. If and when I let them. Which, til now, has been daily.



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