I am really not writing too much lately for my personal byline publication–only this column for the Alameda Sun. It’s just the way things work sometimes. I am trying to focus on marketing/sales/business development work for a couple of business clients (helping bill.com CEO Rene Lacerte craft his blog at asklacerte.com and working with the folks at ELA Consulting Group.
This column is scheduled to run in the April 24 edition of the Sun.
Here’s to Lollygagging, Dillydallying and Dawdling!
There is a scene in The Sound of Music that I never noticed before until just recently. The classic movie was on cable TV a few weeks ago, in a crazy kind of every night marathon, and the girls and I caught different parts on different nights. I have watched this movie, in its entirety and in bits and pieces, hundreds of times. Literally.
The Sound of Music was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater. I was five and my parents had seen the movie and thought that the kids should see it, too. (It was a true story about Catholics, after all.) So, my Dad took the four older kids on a Sunday afternoon, while my mother stayed home with the baby and cooked a roast. I remember sitting in the balcony of an enormous, old-fashioned movie theater, next to my father (a rare treat in my childhood). There was something called an “intermission.” The best part was that we each got to pick a box of candy for ourselves. I remember coming home to Sunday dinner and feeling very happy and grown up, because I was allowed to go as a “big kid.” I really don’t remember much about the movie then, but my Mother bought the soundtrack and played the record over and over again.
So, I have fond memories of this movie. As an adult, I understand its strengths—hmm, let’s see, music, singing, romance, cute singing kids and puppets, drama, history (sort of), a happy ending, it’s even based on a true story (although the real Maria Von Trapp was never very happy about how her Captain was portrayed).
This last time I watched it, though, something different captured my attention. It’s the scene when the Captain is telling The Baroness that he cannot marry her. As the couple stands on the balcony of his huge mansion, Maria, his-true-love-the-governess, is wandering around the estate. She ends up sitting on a bench near a gazebo that plays an enormous part in the love lives of the women of this family. I suppose Maria is thinking about what she’s going to do next. She doesn’t really want to be a nun and she has no place to go. She seems to be just lollygagging, meandering around on the grass deep in thought, until she somehow makes it to the bench.
This time watching it, it really bothers me. What the heck was she doing? Wandering around, just thinking? Who has the time to do that? I certainly don’t, and for a minute, sitting on the couch next to my youngest daughter, as I folded the jeans that had just come out of the dryer, I am consumed with envy for a woman in a movie that was made more than 40 years ago. Suddenly I realize why: I cannot remember what it feels like to lollygag, to just wander around thinking.
How did I get here? Even if I had the time to just sit and think, which I am sure I do somehow, I don’t think I could. There is too much to get done. I am doing laundry as I write this. I get up and clean up the sink between paragraphs. I switch over to my other jobs and deadlines when I feel I’ve made some progress on this piece, in order to slowly make progress in the other work. I do food shopping as I drive around town managing the basketball/soccer/dance carpools. When I walk, it’s with a purpose—it’s for cardio strength and exercise and weight loss, or to catch up with friends that walk with me. I eat lunch while reading the paper. It’s a rule in our house (a mostly un-adhered to by anyone but me rule) that if there’s laundry in the dryer, you can only watch television if you are folding, too.
This scene of Maria, deep in thought, deep in a dawdling kind of mode (because I believe in real life she would have had some kind of chore to do or kid to put to bed), has actually had an effect on my own life. Now, every once in a while I actually stop and think, instead of careening through life, moving from task to task.
Was it always this crazy? Maybe it’s just the time in my life; I need to hurry now and get a lot done (like paying the bills and feeding my very hungry children) so that when I am older I will appreciate down time. I tell my kids to hurry up all the time, get their work done, go to practice/lessons/games, etc. I hurry them along and they are so occupied that often, when there is nothing planned, they are caught off-guard. “What do we do now?” they would ask me when they were younger.
I’ve decided that maybe I need to show them how to build that down time in their own lives so they don’t end up like me, jealous of a fictional character in a Hollywood movie.
So, here’s to the practice of lollygagging and pondering, meandering and dawdling. If you see me aimlessly walking down the street one of these days, just lost in thought, please just smile and wave. Maybe you can do it, too.