What do our calendars say?

Having lost my appointment calendar this week, I knew I needed to pick up a new one.  I was on my way to the gym in the late afternoon and just ran in an office supply store.  I imagined a 5 minute stop to grab a new calendar.  I was there for over an hour and I am still wondering what exactly happened.

I first picked up a tiny little calender just like the one I’d lost; one of those pocket sized calendars that the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (DOC) sends us every year.  (Of course the ones at the office supply do not have all the church-specific information that ours have.)  Then I reached to compare it to one just a little larger, and soon I was looking at all the calendars.  There were the Daily ones with at least a whole page for each day divided into time slots.  They included room for notes and priorities for the day.    Then there were the Weekly calendars,  often with a week laid out across two facing pages.  Perhaps there would be a column down the right side with space for  notes related to the week.  Then there were the Monthly calendars, with a month spread out across the two facing pages.

The larger the calendar, the more additional pages it contained.  Some are blank or lined for notes.  There are Time Zone maps,  lists of 800 numbers for hotel chains, rental car companies, airlines.  There were measurement and equivalency charts in some.  Address and Phone Number pages in many.  Mileage and Travel Expense record charts.  Some were more geared toward Family schedules, with school and children’s activities helps in the back.  Others were oriented toward business people with interest rate charts.    The appearance and feel of the pages differed from calendar to calendar:  Some were bold and stark.  Others had a more subdued appearance.  Some were plain and others had flowers or some background design.

There were some underlying assumptions and perspectives in the design of each calendar.  One that always leaps out at me is the placement of Sunday.  I, personally, want Sunday to be placed as the first day of the week; but more calendars than not had Monday as the first day of the week.  In this case, very often, Sunday was a smaller block at the end of the week; sometimes even sharing a space with Saturday. Sunday was hardly there.

All of this dither about the design of these calendars seems silly; except that I spent enough time with them, to realize that I had different emotional and even physical reactions to different calendars.  A few observations:

The ‘daily’ calendars with lines for each time slot raised my stress level.  I felt anxious just looking at all those hours to be filled in with activities and expectations.

I also felt overwhelmed with spaces that were overly defined.  For instance there was a calender with the daily space divided into hourly sections and a shaded section that ran through the middle of each day saying “Remember to …”  I just knew I could not face that every day!  Made me nervous just to look at it!

I also responded to the font used and the boldness of the print.  Some felt sharp and harsh, whereas others met me more gently.

So I wonder … why, when there is so much in the world needing our attention, am I spending so much time thinking about a calendar?   God knows there are more important things to be done.   I suppose it could be because life feels so out of control and overwhelming:  we can’t fix Haiti,  people are out of jobs and are falling deeper into poverty every day,  and people who are completely out of touch with reality are trying to block health care reform.  That’s enough to make me crazy!

So my thought for the moment is this:

I do need a calendar to try to give myself some sense of order so that I can do what I can do in this world.

I don’t want my calendar to stress me out;  I’m capable of plenty of stress all on my own!

I don’t want to look at a day as a series of hours that must be filled, with every hour claimed by someone or something beyond me.

I still need Sunday to be the first day of the week.

I need to look at a day in the context of a week, and a week in the context of a month.  It gives me a sense of the whole.

I don’t want my calendar to scream at me; I just want it to be there.

I don’t need it to be fancy, but a little style and beauty isn’t a bad thing.

I want it to include space that is open and flexible for notes — notes about anything I want, not topics prescribed by my calendar.

So … I purchased one that is bigger than the one I lost.  This way I have enough space for each day, even though I chose a Monthly calendar (that ‘day in the context of week, and week in context of month’ thing that I’m feeling).  There are plenty of open note pages for each month and another group of open note pages at the back.  The font is gentle and the print is in a dark grey rather than a bold black.  Oh and I really like this:  at the top of each page the month and year are written, such as:   February/ Two Thousand Ten.  That’s nice.

God must chuckle at us and our calendars!