“We often get into work situations, social situations, commitments, volunteer obligations, sports routines, and other types of activities that complicate our lives. We stay in them far longer than we need because it looks good on paper, or because it sounds good when we have the opportunity to drop it into conversations, or because in some way it meets our own or someone else's expectations of the kinds of things we think we should be doing.”
Elaine St. James (Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down & Enjoying More)
A very pivotal birthday looms on my horizon. I will be 70 next month. It's an age when I can no longer consider myself middle-aged, and even though active and vigorous now, w-e-l-l, how long can that possibly last? Time is of the essence. I was at dinner with some friends last weekend, and, while the food was quite good, there was so much noise in the restaurant we couldn't hear each other speak. Conversation just ebbed away. It wasn't fun. It felt as though we were all going through the motions of doing something normal and expected, but nothing about it was truly sociable or enjoyable.
There is a new normal for me. I don't want to keep hanging on to the old normal, but it's hard, isn't it? We have strong internal and external messages about social involvement that we use to calculate our worth, our acceptability, our belonging factor, and even our vigor. Withdrawing from life is not advisable or healthy, but developing new ways of being in life is. Like everyone else, I enjoy going out to eat, trying new restaurants, meeting friends; but from now on, I will discriminate in favor of those places that have a more intimate environment. We adapt; we respect ourselves enough to let go of things that no longer grow corn for us.
This applies equally to volunteer projects, work, and social commitments. I don't know about you, but it is in my nature to over-commit; to get myself into obligations that tax my endurance. When I do that for long enough, I get cranky and exhausted. I push people away with bad tempered rhetoric. Can you relate to that? Do you over-commit? In order for all of life to be enjoyable, productive, and genuinely gracious, we sometimes have to rein in our horses and take a break.
It's the weekend. Take a little time to decompress. Give yourself permission to not be acceptably productive and exhaustingly normal. Let life lead you.
In the Spirit,