For one year, I did not have any margin of time to call my own. I woke up, drove to work, taught all day, went to a meeting or a class, drove home, lesson-planned, maybe ate, graded, maybe showered, maybe slept five or six hours. I began to go to a therapist for depression, and she would ask me about my life and how I’d spent my time since we last talked. I would say, “Well, last week I turned in a final for grad school…” and then, slowly, as she asked me more questions about it, I would remember that this only happened two days ago. Or I’d think something that happened this afternoon had happened yesterday. My notion of time had become impossibly skewed, and my appointment book looked like a Bic massacre, covered in scrawls and cross-outs, every hour of the day filled.
I have margins now, and with them, a margin of sanity even if I’m not constantly throwing rose petals off my Ecstatically Happy Float in the Joy Parade. They are small, these hours to myself, but I have them — and I can watch Lost or read a book or do some laundry without sacrificing basic responsibilities.
Apparently there’s a book about this concept, of creating time margins. (Next I’d like a financial margin. Nothin’ like seeing that bank balance sink down to zero the day before you get paid.)