“Take time just to be; remember, you are a human being, not a human doing.”
I think I clipped it out of a Reader’s Digest long ago, and for years it hung inside the kitchen cabinet of my first house, along with similar uplifting sentiments: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and discover that they were the big things.” “Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” “We cannot do great things; we can only do small things with great love.” There were many more, and they were wonderful, and I think I need to dig them out of my junk drawer and hang them all around my desk.
Because when someone remarked upon that first quote, which they read in the signature line of my email, I realized–not for the first time–that I no longer act like a person who believes that. And that makes me sad. Where did that person go?
Even though I worked part-time outside the home most of the time until my third baby arrived, there was time for twice-daily walks, for four-hour trips to the pool, for preparing a hot dinner and sitting down to it every night. Even when I had three pre-schoolers there was time for afternoons planting bulbs, whole Fridays spent with my mom friends at playgrounds or homes or McDonald’s, hour-long story times every evening.
In those days I didn’t feel guilty about taking a walk outside to see what was blooming in my yard, or going out by myself every Monday night to write letters and X-Files fanfiction, or spending Saturday doing something fun instead of something productive. I didn’t constantly feel like there was something I needed to be doing.
That seems like a long time ago and I have turned into one of those people I never wanted to be, a member of the “rat race” even though there are days I don’t leave my house. No matter what I’m busy doing–and I am almost always busy doing something–I am neglecting something else, and often I am having to neglect the important for the urgent. The only time I feel free to stop being a “human doing” is when we go on vacation–can’t do dishes, laundry, or work so I am free to relax.
I’m not sure how this happened to me. It would be tempting to blame it on my having taken on the job as my husband’s legal assistant. It’s true that hasn’t helped, since I probably spend 20 solid hours a week on it–maybe more. But it’s an attitude change I’m really talking about, and that took place years ago. I’d like to wind up this blog entry with a revelation or words of wisdom or a plan for change, but I am at a loss. I’m open to suggestions, though.