“You must create more margin so you have room for what’s important, not merely urgent.” -Michael Hayatt
Its 4:33PM and we are driving home from the Lost Colony National Park. I’m slowly digesting the reality that once again my high school history education was grossly lacking. The US had English settlers before Jamestown? And they disappeared? Mind. Blown.
We’ve been gone for several hours and are just minutes away from our RV home. Trent looks to his left and spots a crowd of people gathered on top of a sand dune. Absentmindedly he says, “Look at all the people, I wonder what is going on over there?”
“Let’s go see,” I reply, testing his both his curiosity and the boundaries of our spontaneity. He raises his eyebrows and responds by tapping the blinker. Within moments our van is pointed in a new direction.
We pull into the parking lot of Jockey’s Ridge State Park and discover that we have serendipitously sequestered ourselves at the base of the tallest natural occurring sand dune on the east coast.
“What is this place?” “Look at the hang glider over there!” “Can we take our shoes off?” The questions start tumbling out of the four little mouths that we brought with us. Taking our cue from the mounds of abandoned footwear, we remove our socks and shoes tentatively leaving them near the base of a sign post.
By now the sun is low on the horizon and the sand is cool to the touch. We begin our ascent, unsure what we will find at the top.
The unexpected awaits
We summit the dune and take in the vast expanse surrounding us. The amount of rolling sand apart from an ocean feels almost other-worldly.
The surprise and delight in our children manifests itself in the form of uncontrolled laughter and various versions of rolling, sliding, leaping and wrestling. Occasionally, they pause their play long enough to shout out, “Thank you so much for brining us here, I’m having a blast!”
Margin allows for memories
While the kids do their very best to ensure that sand will later be found in every nook and cranny of their being, Trent and I sit at the top of the ridge and watch the dipping sun reflect off of the nearby waters of Roanoke Sound.
It is here that I take in the gravity of the moment, the realization that this memory was made because we had margin. Our schedule had not been maximized to it’s fullest capacity. We had left wiggle room around the edges of our day that allowed for spontaneity.
Making room for margin
While it may not seem realistic to have margin in every day, I believe it is a goal worth striving toward. Margin makes room for relationships to deepen. It lowers stress. It creates an environment that opens up possibilities. Memories have room to move in when margin is present.
Here’s the rub: we can’t say ‘yes’ to margin without simultaneously saying ‘no’ to other things. These other things may be appealing but they can’t do what margin can. Also, it’s good to note that margin doesn’t always transform itself into blog-post-worthy moments, that’s okay. Over time, margin can transform us. We can become more aware of the people, opportunities and experiences around us. We can be more willing to respond to needs or simply recharge ourselves from the day.
Ironically, I wonder if it might also be possible to have too much margin? If we fail to set plans or goals before us, sitting too comfortably in our margin could create a paralyzing effect.
I wonder if some of us tend more toward one end of the spectrum (not having enough margin) or the other (having too much)? Regardless, I would guess that we all struggle with maintaining a healthy amount of margin. Let’s struggle together toward a place where we have time for what is truly important, and not merely urgent.
How about you dear reader? Can you think of a time that having margin in your day allowed for the unexpected? Do you struggle to have enough margin or do you possibly have too much? I’d love to hear your thoughts.