389. A Thought

When I was busy in my teaching career, I told myself and others that I would be more attentive, sensitive, and all that if I just had more time. I’d pay more attention to the little things that mean so much. Sometimes I got skeptical looks; people thought my career was just an alibi. So I tried to balance my career with the rest of my life. And like most people I know, I didn’t do either as well as I wanted to.
My alibi isn’t there any more. Of course, my energy is less, and if I wanted to, I could use my decreased energy as an alibi. In fact, I am committed to staying as healthy as possible, and that does involve careful budgeting of my energy. But as much as I miss my career, the fact is that lack of time was a bigger obstacle to living fully than lack of energy. I now pay attention to people who talk to me, think about the people who are important to me, stay in touch with old friends, write when I feel like writing, teach each weekday morning, and volunteer for things that are important to me.
Part of my trick is that I have learned how to say “no,” and part of the reason I can do that is that people don’t expect as much of me; I’m disabled. But I think a bigger part is that I have time. My afternoons include naps and times when I get to think. That thinking may inspire me to write to a friend, take a roll in the woods, write an article, or do something I’ve volunteered to do.
I’m telling you this not to toot my own horn, although it does have that effect, too. My main reason for telling you is that you may still be caught in the rat race. And so you don’t have time to really look at the picture your child drew, or listen to something important your friend is telling you. And I’ll bet there are people telling you that if you really cared, you would MAKE time. I remember taking occasional workshops on stress management. But only short ones. With so much to do, how could I attend a week-long workshop on stress management? And how could I ever catch up on all my work afterwards?
From my point of view, those stress management workshops, though certainly potentially helpful, missed the main point. The main point is that there really isn’t enough time to earn a living and also do all the other important things there are to do. Retired, I don’t have to earn a living any more. And since my daughters are adults, parenting is far from the full-time job it once was.
So take heart. If you are having trouble holding all the parts of your life together, it could well be that your life actually is too full – that it’s not your fault. I used to think my difficulty meeting all my responsibilities was a sign of my own inadequacy. Now that I am meeting them all, I think there used to be too many.

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