Every now and then, H and I decide to have what we call, “The Longest Day Ever.” It’s our way of intentionally making the most of a particular day. If you’re like us, you sometimes look up and realize you’ve gotten in a rut. The rut isn’t necessarily bad. The rut is filled with all of the good, regular stuff. Stuff like work and play, love and laughter, running errands, cooking dinner, saying prayers, and having fun. It’s just that, in the rut, we don’t always notice what’s happening, right now. Often, our mind is thinking about what’s coming next, distracting us from the experience we’re having in the moment. When H and I notice that we’ve fallen into a rut like this, we try to shake things up a bit and raise the bar on our noticing. So, one of us will say to the other, “Let’s make tomorrow The Longest Day Ever.”
Of course, neither one of us has the ability to add hours to a day. Instead, when we set out to create The Longest Day Ever, our goal is to be fully present in the moments we’ve been given. While we like to think we are always being fully present, setting aside a day as The Longest Day Ever helps us set our intention on getting the most out of every moment.
Maybe you’re realizing you’ve fallen into a rut. If your mind is constantly focused on next rather than now, creating your own version of The Longest Day Ever can help to calm your mood, energize your body, and rejuvenate your relationships. Your version of The Longest Day Ever can be a solo event, or you can invite a friend, a business partner, your spouse, or your children to join in with you. While your version of The Longest Day Ever can be whatever you make it, H and I have found the following elements create the best framework for us:
Do something that brings you joy. Visit an art museum. Spend time in a book store. Play music that makes you smile. Buy ingredients to bake your favorite cake. Fly a kite. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to experience joy. Watching a movie is one of H’s favorite things. Recently, H and I learned that the very first movie of the day in our local theater only costs $5 per ticket. In the Fall and Winter, catching an early showing of a new release is a great start to The Longest Day Ever. During warmer months, we get up early and head out on our bikes, which might be one of my love languages. Often, we do all of the stuff we’d do on any other day—getting groceries, stopping by the bank, grabbing lunch at a favorite bistro—but using bicycles as our transportation gives us a different perspective on our neighborhood and our community.
Take it Slow
Resist the urge to make a list of things to do. Don’t put a time limit on your day. If you end up sitting in the ice cream parlor for the entire day, who’s to say there’s anything wrong with that? Watch people. Listen to nature. Read an entire book in one sitting. Do not rush. When the next thing is ready for you, you’ll know it. Every now and then, you’ll catch a glimpse of a clock somewhere on the wall, and it may surprise you. But don’t let time be the boss of you. Experience now. Don’t worry about next.
Free Your Body
This one is difficult to articulate, but pay attention to your body. It may want to move, or sleep. Your body might want to dance or sing. It might be trying to tell you to notice the warmth of the sun on your shoulders. Maybe it wants you to feel the grass beneath your feet. Your body is very wise, and you can trust it. I think we’ve let ourselves become afraid of our bodies, thinking they only wish to lead us into unsavory places. Remember, however, that we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We know where to draw the line with our bodies, but do we also know how to let our bodies follow the Spirit into freedom? When people are recovering from illness, and when women are giving birth, we often tell them, “Listen to your body,” because we know, instinctively, that our bodies wish us well. And, when our bodies are led by the Spirit of God, freedom is what awaits. We spend so much time beating our bodies into some strange illusion of conformity—our hair, our breasts, our waists, our thighs, our skin. What kind of healing and new life might we encounter if, for one day, we simply let our bodies be?
We are given one life and one life only. Our station in life often makes it necessary that we set ourselves on auto-pilot and move from one thing to the next without fully experiencing the moment. This might be one of the reasons we are so quick to snap a photo of every place we go. Perhaps we recognize, in some part of our souls, the need to capture the moment in digital form because we know we are not truly experiencing it in real time. For good or for bad, our schedules and seasons of life often have us rushing through our daily experiences. Every now and then, consider a reboot in the form of The Longest Day Ever. Leave your phone at home, hop on your bike, and watch the day stretch itself out before you in an extended embrace. Let yourself fall in.