James riverThe James River in Scottsville, Virginia

She said, “Let’s do something fun on Monday.” 

My friend had the day off. But, Monday? That’s the serious day. That’s the day where you hunker down and grow up. That’s when you start diets and stop bad habits.

I work from home and my time is very flexible, but I still thought twice. Monday? I might have words to write and emails to return and I might need to be Very Busy and Important.

But then I realized my friend was inviting me to have fun – not to rotate her tires – and I said yes.

I did feel a little Protestant work ethic guilt on Monday morning (surprising, for a Buddhist) when my husband was putting on his khakis and button up and I was in my bikini top, searching for my floppy hat.

“Have fun on the river,” he obliged.

Have fun on the river we did. We had very much fun in our rented inner tubes as we lazily floated down the James. We didn’t even let the guy at the tube place let it get us down; in response to my friend saying she hadn’t been tubing in 20 years – he exclaimed, “Wow ma’am, that was before I was born!”

So, in all our old-age glory, we floated. We dangled our fingers in the water and watched the turtles dive off their logs and into the shallows. Except for them, we were alone on the river. We stared up at the clouds and stopped to eat our picnic lunch on a big rock in the middle of the water. We gossiped about friends and talked about sex and screamed when the cool water splashed us. We discussed death and the insecure job market. We put on more sunscreen. We wondered if there were snakes in the river and if dragonflies bite.

And when I got home, sundrenched and tired from laziness, my emails and work and responsibilities were patiently waiting for me. They were not worse for being put off a day, in fact, I had a better perspective of them because of my day on the river. Being in nature and nurturing a relationship… those things are just good for the soul. I feel refreshed and renewed.

I had fun. I was fun.

It’s great to take your life seriously and pursue your goals and make your worthy contribution. It’s also great to almost fall out of an inner tube because you are slippery from sunscreen and laughing too hard on a Monday afternoon. It’s all about balance.

Remember how wonderful Snow Days used to be? Remember how amazing it felt to have a free pass because all of a sudden it felt like you could handle going back to school, you could take it, and even do it better because you had this awesome little perk of a break?

Yeah. It was like that.

Thanks, J.