Anne Lamott and the Restorative Experience of the Couch Cruise

I woke up Friday morning at my regular time and looked over at the clock, then to the gray sky outside my window, and felt dread.  Whether it was the winter blues, the after-effects of a stressful week or a combination of both, I just wasn’t in the mood to work that day.  I checked my calendar and confirmed I didn’t have any appointments and decided I would give myself a couch cruise.

In her book, Plan B, Anne Lamott writes that when she is stressed, exhausted or overwhelmed, she carries her favorite pillow, comforter, and books to her living room, drops onto the couch and takes a “cruise.”  But even though she knows that she needs a break she finds it hard to justify, because, like most of us, she has much to do.  She writes:

I hate to stop, though I know that to go faster and faster and do more is to move in the direction of death. Continuous movement argues a wasted life. And so I try to create a cruise ship, to carry me back toward living…it’s unbelievable healing; it resets me. Yet it takes time, at least two hours. You can’t rush a cruise ship; you can’t hurry doing nothing. After awhile, you see the sweetest, most invigorating thing of all: one person tenderly caring for another, even if it’s just me taking care of me on my old couch.

And despite having a stack of files waiting for me at my office, I did just that.  At the recommendation of a friend I began the novel Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, which I finished the same day, in about six hours. (An excellent novel, by the way: darker and more complex than the film, perhaps unsurprisingly.)  It felt so good to be still, to be alone, to rest, to check out for a day.  And the fact that I was doing it while the rest of the world was working made it fun, even a bit  . . . naughty.

And then that night I had dinner with friends, spent the next day (a warm sunny one) running and hiking with a friend, and by Sunday I was rejuvenated.  I went into the office and caught up quickly and felt relaxed and ready to start the week.  And it was because I made the choice to just take care of me on my old couch.

Give yourself this gift from time to time.  If chosen wisely, it is not be an act of laziness or failure of motivation, but a regeneration, an energetic, productive activity.  One that we all need but seldom allow ourselves.  When you feel rundown, spent or just sad, give it to yourself.  Happy cruising.




Raymond Carver

                                                                            Woke up this morning with

                                                                            a terrific urge to lie in bed all day

                                                                            and read. Fought against it for a minute.

                                                                            Then looked out the window at the rain.

                                                                            And gave over. Put myself entirely

                                                                            in the keep of this rainy morning.

                                                                            Would I live my life over again?

                                                                            Make the same unforgiveable mistakes?

                                                                            Yes, given half a chance. Yes.

                                                        from All of Us: The Collected Poems