Our company officially shuts down on the 24th and reopens on January 2nd but everyone in my core team turned on their Out of Office auto responses on Friday, gleefully yelling out happy holidays, see you in 2014 at 5pm on the dot. My associate publisher and I were the last two in the office at 530pm, wrapping things up. Before I left, she and I chatted briefly about how to care for the air plant I gave her for the holidays and she expressed appreciation and delight at the low-maintenance involved in its upkeep. No soil, no daily watering. It’s the kind of plant that’s managed to not only survive but thrive despite my kiss-of-death black thumbs.
I have a long history of killing plants. Usually this results not from neglect but over-attentiveness–death by suffocation, drowning them with too much water.
Are you in next week? I asked her. God, no, she said emphatically. No one will be here, it’s going to be a ghost town, dead zone. I told her I was thinking of coming in for a few hours on Monday to make sure everything was in order on these two social media projects for big budget books releasing on December 31st that I’d been responsible for since I started my job. She didn’t say anything but had a quizzical Why on earth would you do that? look on her face.
On the subway ride home, I started thinking that I really didn’t need to go in, that any last minute to-dos or anything I might’ve forgotten could be taken care of remotely and that if a problem of significant magnitude were to arise, nothing could be done until everyone returned the following week. Anyhow, what big problem could arise?
I had to trust that I’d done a good job all these months and that no amount of fiddling for a few hours would produce anything better. Let it go. It’s done.
I remembered that I used to do this sort of thing in high school before exams. I’d study judiciously for weeks and learned the material, but still study more right up to the beginning of the test. I did this less often in college. I realized that if I didn’t know the material by the day of the exam, a few hours wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome. And in fact, I was likely doing more harm than good and should instead take those few hours to clear my head and relax a bit.
I still slip into high school mode from time to time. It’s not conscientiousness but insecurity and stress that drive me here. It happens during particularly frenzied times like now with a taxing workload, endless neglected domestic chores, and the added holiday obligations.
I’m glad I caught myself this time. I’ve decided not to go to work on Monday. I’ll try and do my best with the holiday to-dos and cleaning. But I won’t kill myself trying to accomplish it all. Instead, I’m going to focus on relaxing and enjoying myself and soon, appreciating my loved ones in LA. Tomorrow, I’m even delaying (perhaps even canceling it altogether) gift buying and heading to The Brooklyn Museum to see The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier.
I hope you do the same: Start your break now. It’s time.