I recently read an essay on Facebook challenging readers to answer the question “how’s your summer?” more creatively than the typical “busy.”
Busy is the default word many use when describing their
schedules. Yeah, we are all busy.
My parents who are retired say they are busy. Now, whether or not I believe my parents are truly that busy, ahem, is beyond the point. The point is, “busy” is how we feel through our own lens, our own filter, our own perspective. We each have our own definition of busy.
My busy looks different than your busy, but we all feel busy.
One of my friends responded to this essay post and said her new answer to the question would be a “fun-packed calendar.” So instead of the negative connotation of “busy” she would admit her calendar is packed, but it’s a fun packed, right?
Well, I took the challenge and I tried to come up with my own positive response. The one word that kept coming to my mind was “cluster.”
The definition of cluster is: a group of similar things or people positioned or occurring closely together.
Yep, sounds like our calendar. It’s a cluster, a group of similar things occurring closely together.
Let’s see if this fits.
Week one of summer vacation. I had dropped my daughter off at a friend’s house to catch a ride to basketball camp. Then my husband and I and our two sons went to our church picnic. I was watching the clock closely as I was the carpool ride home from basketball camp. And when I left to get the girls from basketball, the boys were all going to walk across the street to the legion baseball game. As my mind was feeling good about how the chain of events were fitting well into our schedule, my phone buzzed. A text from my mother-in-law came asking if my youngest was on his way to his cousin’s birthday party. Remember, the one my sister-in-law had told me about the week before?
My calendar for the evening was a cluster and I had completely forgotten to make note of my niece’s birthday party among the other similar things occurring closely together.
My husband recently scheduled a meeting at our church, sent out an invite via email the day before, and even accepted his own invite. Then realized after the fact that he had forgotten and missed the meeting entirely. That day he had clients in and out of the office, was coordinating a tournament and scheduling games for our son’s baseball team that he coaches, trying to fit in his daily routine, along with other things he is working on. He just flat out forgot because his schedule was full of similar things occurring closely together.
And then there’s the teenager. Once a week he heads to golf league with his buddies. When the hour-long league is finished, they may, or may not, play more golf at the course. Then in the early afternoon he has a scheduled workout. With a variety of parents sharing carpool duty to and from golf league, and the scheduled plans changing from week to week, he just can’t seem to remember who he is supposed to ride with and when.
Two weeks in a row he managed to not go in the carpool ride home when he should have, leaving him stranded at the golf course (let’s not feel too sorry for him.) Because of his choices, the next carpool to his afternoon workout had to be rerouted to pick him up at the golf course rather than at home. Even his schedule is packed with similar things occurring closely together.
Some days it’s all a cluster. But I think it’s a good cluster, I’d even argue it’s a fun cluster. My family is full of movers, we don’t like to be stationary or we get bored easily. For us boredom turns into laziness. So, we actually like to be busy with kids’ activities, volunteering and our own social events.
We like to have a clustered schedule, full of similar things occurring closely together.
And yes, sometimes the cluster of the schedule causes us to mess up. Yet, did my son’s absence at his cousin’s party ruin her sixth birthday? Let’s be real, no it did not. Did my husband missing a church meeting change the course of his life? Not at all. And will my teen’s lack of calendar details wreck his opportunity to be a good human? Nope. He has the best excuse in the world for being careless, he’s a teenage boy.
So, from now on when someone asks, “how’s your summer?” I won’t elaborate and say it’s full of similar things occurring closely together, I will simply respond with “a fun cluster.”