A Dreamer, a Drawer, and a Lollygagger


When I asked the kiddos at the lunch table today, “What are your plans for the long weekend?”, I was pleasantly surprised to hear things like: “I really don’t have any plans.” “We’ll probably eat pancakes.” “I just got a puppy so we’ll play, I think.” Around here, four-day trips to Paris or horse shows or all-weekend basketball tournaments are not unusual, so when I think that a handful of these dear ones have a few days of open air and unstructured time, it makes me so glad.

One girl, when I asked what they did last weekend, said (roughly, as I recall), “Well, I stayed in bed even though I was wide awake. And I drew a lot — I had this dream that I lived in a village by the sea where the streets all ran right into the water! I tried a lot of different times to get it right, and the best part was that my house was the closest one to the water so I had the best view. There were shops and restaurants that went out over the water, and I wished I really could visit a place like that so I drew it. It took me pretty much all day! And then it was dinner time.”

And so my weekend lies ahead. I would like to pattern mine after hers. When I consider how often I dreamt and drew and colored (and just plain lollygagged) on the weekends when I was younger, it’s shameful that I don’t use those gifts or that time the way I used to. I admit that the quest for perfection sometimes trips me up and I slam into its cold wall, and I find I’d rather not start something that doesn’t have a purpose (or a commissioner’s cash) at the other end of it. Just today, in fact, I challenged my third graders to drop their defenses and join their memories with their imaginative powers while drawing some preliminary Chinese dragons. Man, it was an uphill battle. They’re only in third grade and they have a hard time remembering how unhindered they were just a mere three years prior.

I know that my weekend will also have to include un-decking the house from its twinkly Christmas state (but only partially, because “Winter” is the current official holiday that I like to celebrate). My weekend will also include taking out the trash, cleaning my bedroom which is yet a total wreck from the action of the past two weeks, and I’ll also need to bundle up and get outside for to move my body around and try to turn around the delicious damage that was done to my waistline over the holidays. I’ll also need to wield my trusty pruning shears and cut the tree branches that scrape scarily across my bedroom window, sounding much like the witches’ fingers from my girlhood nightmares. So many adult-ish things must be seen to, but here’s hoping that I might take some time, stay in my pretty bed with my new, cocoa powder-colored fur blanket, my coffee and my Moleskine book, some pencils and paints, some music. Lollygagging is a gift too, see.


  1. Chinwe

    Just this past weekend, someone asked me what the “end goal” of my photography is. I replied that I didn’t know. I’m often plagued by the thought that I’m not doing enough with my photography – not advertising myself enough, not selling enough (well, at all), etc. I look around and feel less-than because I don’t have an “end goal.” But sometimes, when the fog clears, I realize that simply creating is beautiful and I’m blessed to be a small part of it. The joy I get from seeing something new and beautiful in the ordinary, and being able to capture it with my lens is “end goal” enough. Thanks for the reminder, Evie.

  2. Heather

    I find myself falling into a pattern of “must work” all around the clock. I love the idea of fitting “lollygagging” back into my schedule!

  3. Shelley R.

    This is timely…

    I’ve resolved all tensions within for the lollygagging the leaks out in my children, in particular our middle gal at six years old. She draws, dreams, and after having a few “yes’ days in the house (where you say ‘yes’ to whatever idea is presented as long as it’s not expensive or hurtful to others) we’ve had the best adventures and most creative projects.

    so, yes…
    hoping the adult-ish tasks led to time unhindered, and to all who hold back:
    sleep in a sheet tent if you have kids and tell stories or use up all the watercolor pencils in one sitting or, you name it, and enjoy!

  4. Becca

    Evie, I love this. It reminds me of what Brenda Ueland writes of “moodling” in her book, _If You Want to Write_:

    “So you see the imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. These people who are always briskly doing something and as busy as waltzing mice, they have little, sharp, staccato ideas, such as: ‘I see where I can make an annual cut of $3.47 in my meat budget.’ But they have no slow, big ideas.”

    According to Ueland, a time of rest precedes the time of doing. Wasn’t it Eugene Peterson who said that the night, not the dawn is the intended beginning of our doings? “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”(Gen 1:3ish) Rest precedes labor.

    Ueland continues:

    “So if you want to write try this: go into your room alone. Resign yourself tranquilly to doing something slow and worthless for at least an hour. Take a pencil or sit before your typewriter and look out of the window. Perhaps write down and name (if you feel like it) what colors you see in the sky–exactly–and absorbedly, with quiet, dreamy attention. “Star… four points … yellow.” Don’t bother to make sentences (unless you want to). Or dreamily and carelessly write what goes through your head such as: “I don’t seem to feel at all like working today. What is this muggy feeling?” (You may find yourself giving a brilliant, truthful, luminous description of dullness and apathy). Or idly scrawl: “I seem to wish I could write a story that would sell for eight hundred dollars about a duchess, but I never knew a duchess and can’t seem to see one in my mind’s eye and what should I name her anyway?” Thoughts will begin to come out of this. ”

    And finally:

    “If you would continue to be alone for a long time, amblingly swinging your legs for many miles and living in the present, then you will be rewarded: thoughts, good ideas, plots for novels, longings, decisions, revelations will come to you.”

  5. Peter B

    Caleb, I’m going to hold on to that MacDonald quote.

    Evie, thank you for the reminder — though since we have referred to my maternal grandmother as “Lolly” for as long as I can remember, that word holds a certain morbid connotation for me.

    Now to move out of the city.

  6. Libby

    Thank you for this reminder Evie!

    Lollygagging is especially important during the winter months I think. Dreaming and granting myself the permission to just flutter through my thoughts and imagination fills my mind with ideas and creativity that chase away the winter blues.

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