Today is not the most beautiful day in New York. It’s overcast, chillier than usual, and just gloomy. So I’m spending my lunch break (which I so rarely take these days) writing a blog post.
For those of you who don’t know, I work in textbook publishing so summer is far and away our busiest time of the year. It’s a non-stop three months of deadlines and it’s easy to feel (and be) overwhelmed by a seemingly never-ending to-do list.
So my coworker (who writes beautifully about food and life on her blog) and I have decided to start being proactive: to take our lunch breaks and nourish our bodies, sometimes with food or coffee, but mostly with sunshine and words.
We don’t make it out everyday – sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes an ill-timed meeting, sometimes there’s a pressing deadline that cannot be put off – but the days we do go outside are joyful and completely change my mood.
A quick walk takes us to the park where we can enjoy summer in the city without smelling hot garbage or feeling like the heat between buildings will cause us to melt. It’s hard to feel stressed,upset, or mad when you’re looking out onto the water — dotted with boats and famous landmarks — and feel the breeze coming off the harbor.
It’s an immediate pick-me-up.
But like the title of this blog post suggests, the real thing that has made these breaks so enjoyable is cracking open whatever book I’m reading. There’s nothing I want more than to get away from my computer screen and engage with a physical text.
It’s been wonderful to catch up with Harry Potter during his first year at Hogwarts; to thumb through Mary Louise Parker’s letters to the men in her life; to intrude on the final moments of some of the world’s greatest writers.
When it’s a really good book, I’m able to let the sounds of the city — the muted laughter of tourists, the thump-thump-thump of runners, the tinkling of the floor xylophone — fall away. Sometimes I’m able to lose myself in a book and almost forget that the second half of the day awaits. Emphasis on almost.
It’s been a small change that has really made a big impact on my day. It is easier to get through the rest of the day when my hands are dry from turning pages and my face is flushed from the sun. Summer doesn’t go by as quickly when you make time to enjoy it a little bit every day.
On particularly beautiful days, when it’s hard to bring myself to go back inside and leave the cool, lively park, I know there’s always tomorrow and that I’ll bring my book.