The bathwater is razor hot and sloshes at the edge of the tub. Soapy wrinkles in the water slide over my kneecaps. It smells like lemon soap and sweat. In my mind, this is the ultimate gesture of self-care – I even lit some candles and lined them up on the counter. This is the time for relaxation. There is no sound of traffic outside my window. There is no essay I need to write. There is no alarm set on my phone.
But I have never been so restless.
Sit with your mind, I think. Let the thoughts come, and watch them drift past you. Focus on the water as it squeezes through your skin and warms you to your center. Notice what you’re feeling. Let yourself feel it.
My fingers tip-tap on the edge of the bathtub. Tip-tap. Tip-tap. Tip-tap.
I should be doing something. I should be writing something. I should be reading something. I should be checking in on a project. Working on a new promotion post. Monitoring my book sales on Amazon. Agonizing over how to make sales go up. Texting friends to make sure they feel wanted. I should be making a story out of this. I should be writing about this.
Soaking wet, I climb out of the tub, grab a notebook, drip suds on the paper. Ink smears down the page in misaligned letters, clings to the lines of my thumbprint. I need to have something to say about this.
My first Christmas break since college has forced me to realize something that I’ve always kind of known: I am terrible at down time. I constantly feel like I’m supposed to be doing something. It’s partly because of how my brain works (as in, if I don’t keep it busy, my brain starts to eat itself). But it’s also more than that. The nature of my career is that I use my time and my experiences as a form of currency. The things I do and the things I feel give me things to write about. So in a way, if I do something and then I don’t write about it, it feels like it didn’t really happen. Or that it happened, but I am wasting that experience. It feels wrong to simply have an experience. I have to do something with it.
I’m self-aware enough to realize this isn’t super healthy. The point of taking a bath is to slow down. Feel your muscles relax under the water. Close your eyes for a minute. But I ended up tapping my fingers, worrying about wasted time, and scrawling an ink-smudged poem. Something is off here.
I have another week to practice slowing down. I’m going to give it my best try.
yours in haste,
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.