My friend Beth and I were driving home from the farmers’ market last Saturday, and talking about our plans for the rest of the day. Her plans involved beating back the forces of chaos and entropy and finding the horizontal surfaces in her house. She even talked about washing woodwork. Then, she said, she thought she’d play some mandolin and work on the songs she’s learning.
Without even stopping to take a breath I blurted out, “Do music first!”
For both of us growing up, whatever work there was to be done had to be completed before we could do anything that smacked of “fun.” For me, homework had to be done before I could go outside and play. Dinner dishes had to be washed, dried and put away before I could escape to my room to read or play my guitar. On Saturdays, the house had to be vacuumed and the grass mowed before I could do anything with my friends.
This “work first, fun later” pattern was all too easy to carry along to adult life. The list of chores and responsibilities grew ever longer, leaving smaller and smaller windows of time where fun might squeeze in. And so it was also all too easy to put off harp practice (fun) until after all the work was done, and then find myself too tired and without enough time and imagination left to make harp practice worthwhile.
It was time for a revolution, for considering that the earth would not stop turning on its axis if I did something I liked, if I dared to “have fun” before I did my chores. I bravely devised a new “I’m-an adult-and-can-do-what-I-want” philosophy: Do Music First. Before the dishes, before the laundry, before the dusting, before the gardening, before scooping the cat litter, before running errands, before the cooking and the shopping – before all the tasks and responsibilities of being an adult, do music first. Play my harp, and do what I love and what is the most important to me, first.
The world did not end. The health inspectors don’t knock on my door because the breakfast dishes aren’t done until after harp practice. There is still food on the grocery store shelves when I shop in the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. The weeds don’t walk off and hide – they’re all still there waiting for me when I get to the garden. Life doesn’t seem to mind a bit if I have fun first and work later.
And so I encourage you, and challenge you, to start your days doing what you love, doing what is most important to you. Whatever it is, whatever makes your heart sing and your soul glad, do it first.