Word of the week: impasse - /ˈimˌpas,imˈpas/ - noun - (hear it!) -
a situation in which no progress is possible

Taking a Breather 

Once upon a different life, Spare Time and I were friends.

“He” alone taught me so much in the years we knew each other: how to play, how to love, how to imagine, how to dream. . . . We frolicked in the woods; caught frogs, snakes, and lizards. We dug low in the dirt; and climbed high in the trees, fell out of them, laughed, then did it all over again. We lazed in the sun, and curled up with good books. We took wonderful walks, and pretended to ride horses or hunt dragons in the field.

knight and dragon

Oh, Spare Time and I explored every nook and cranny of life, endlessly, relentlessly, tirelessly, once upon a different life.

Ah, but how the older years change everything!

With age come responsibilities, burdens; and with these, comes the sly intrusion of Essential Time.

Oh sure, Essential Time and I were friends . . . at first.

“She,” coupled with Spare Time, taught me so much in the years we’ve known each other: how to work, how to decide, how to view reality, how to take solid root . . . We built a house*; finished, finalized, and furnished it. We worked when scheduled, and did chores when home; took care of a child, fell flat on our faces, chuckled, then did it all over again. We toiled in the sun, and curled up in exhaustion at day’s end. We forewent those walks, and pretend horses and imaginary field dragons floated away like smoke on the wind. . . .

Huh. Some change.

Before long, Essential Time and I struggled to remain friends, after she’d transformed into a needy creature, roughly shoving aside my dear old friend, Spare Time.

“Tend to me!” she’d cry haughtily. “You must tend to me. I am your life now . . . no more frolicking, digging, or climbing; no more lazing around, or reading for enjoyment; no more strolling, or pretending to ride horses or slay foes. No, no, look around, look at all you must do. . . .”

Initially, Spare Time would visit, until Essential Time’s interruptions—she, with her snooty nose in the air—forced Spare Time to leave, dejected. Soon, all that remained were Essential Time’s venomous demands, which gradually shifted in frequency and intensity, despite her needs being the only ones I knew.

Until . . .

(And please believe me when I say “Rare is the moment I have nothing to do.”)

Out and about on a motherly errand one afternoon, I ended up being too late to return home and too early to pick up my daughter from school; I was at an impasse. So, I decided to visit our town’s river where people often fished, Farmington Riverand as I sat down onto one of the benches along the bank and closed my eyes to enjoy that nice, warm, sunny solitude . . . I soon felt Essential Time’s dismay at my inactivity.

“Why are you sitting?” she yelled. “You shouldn’t be sitting! There’s far too much to do! Get up! Get up!”

I promptly ignored her. Hey, what could I do? Too late to return home, too early to pick up my daughter. I was at an impasse, dammit!

Yet Essential Time continued to yell; she prodded, and poked, and chastised. Still I sat, waiting for her to go away. At last she did, fading off, frustrated and angry, and before long I sensed a familiar presence beside me.

“Hey,” it whispered, “how do you like it?”

My old friend, Spare Time.

“How do I like what?” I whispered back.

“Taking a breather, taking in the world again.”

I smiled. It was wonderful. The burble of the river, the crisp freshness of the early spring breeze, the rustle of dead leaves, the warm sun on my skin . . . all sensations I’d once enjoyed and cherished but now had forgotten how to, crunched under Essential Time’s incessant “Hurry, hurry, hurry up! Go, go, go!”

Her straining demands had expunged from my mind what all writers are obligated to do: Stay connected to the world—to truly listen, to feel, to taste, to smell; to really pay close attention everything around us and utilize every available sense to take it all in, because honestly . . . what is a true story scene without sounds, without smells, without tastes or tactile sensations? For a writer to describe these through the written word, and for a reader to experience a fleshed-out, sensory-rich scene sincerely and in full, enough to become lost in the story world . . . it’s like spinning a web of magic.

So thank you, Spare Time, dear friend, for slowing me down and reminding me to take stock in the various sensations of the world around me, so I may continue to grow and mature in my career as a writer.

I will forever be grateful.

* My hubby helped! :-D


  1. Quite creative!

    Spare time seems so elusive!

    1. Thank you very much, William! :)

      Oh, yes. Spare Time is quite elusive, and remains so to this very day. Lol. I don't think Spare Time and I will ever fully get back together until I'm in my retirement.