If anyone has ever played the Parker Brother game, Payday, you’ll recall that the playing board is a month-long calendar and each week is ended by a square that says, “Sweet Sunday”. When you land on this square, nothing happens. It’s just a free square. We’re supposed to be happy and to reflect on the blessing that we didn’t land on a square that required us to pay money to someone.
I never cared much for those squares. In my child-like worldview at that time, I would rather something unpleasant happen to me than for nothing at all to happen. To me, landing on a Sunday square was a wasted turn. Sure, I didn’t have to spend $40 for a prom dress, but neither did I get to buy or sell a load of old copper pipes or antique bottles or participate in a lottery for people down on their luck.
But that was a game.
In real life, I look forward to Sunday with great, keening anticipation. Except in my case, it is Saturday I look forward to. Though usually riddled with chores and errands, Saturday is my day to relax and unwind from a hectic, stressful week. It is the day I want to sleep in, wake up late, and then lounge around in my pajamas and drink coffee and play on my laptop until I darn well feel like grabbing a shave and a shower and getting busy.
But, just like the game “Payday”, life can be somewhat unpredictable. Before we know it, it is time to roll the dice again and cringe as we move along, hoping that we won’t be set upon by an unscrupulous auto mechanic or a shyster fence salesman.
So, even though I look forward all week long to getting to sit here on Saturday morning in my pajamas doing exactly what I’m doing right now, before too long the feelings of guilt set in. “I should be up doing something,” I begin to think.
Within half an hour I am thinking things like, “It is shameful that a grown-ass man like myself is sitting here in his pajamas at 9:30 in the morning playing on a computer.”
If I wait much beyond even that point, my thoughts become more pointed. “What a complete and utter waste of space and carbon I am! Why didn’t I get up at 7 AM and get out and mow the yard or clean out the rain gutters?! I am a disgrace to my species! My seventh grade algebra teacher was right: I will never amount to anything!” I follow this by rending my clothing and falling to my knees, sobbing in the rain (which is mysteriously falling in my living room).
Why can’t we just enjoy a bit of down time? Why do we feel guilty just sitting and doing nothing?
I blame the game “Payday”. It set up this unrealistic expectation of stress-free and pleasant weekends in my mind when I was a child.
Curse you, Parker Brothers!