- Teaching, tutoring, and raising kids
- Teaching full-time day school followed by college courses in the evening
- Commuting two hours to teach, followed by writing, submitting, & reading other people's work
- Working out of town and returning on weekends to carry out all the necessary domestic duties
- Working several part-time jobs to make ends meet
- And if you're in a city-- driving to the ferry, riding across the water to board a subway (I did this for years!)
The scenarios are endless!
A few weeks ago, I was in low-grade panic mode, sort of scaring myself about all that had to be done and feeling overwhelmed.
Then I started to meditate.
Something dawned on me: It's how we approach it that matters. There are only so many hours in a day, so at some point we just have to go to bed. When we get up, most of what we have to do is still there. So we begin again. And that's the rub.
It's like we are programmed to think that we should hurry up and finish so we get to this period of blissful, open-ended, smooth sailing. Not so. This is life. Busy. Too much in it. New things coming out of nowhere-- a funeral, a humongous bill, a party, a new assignment, jury duty, sick kids, whatever.
This is what I understand since my meditating epiphany:
- Contentment comes when we accept, day-by-day, the things that are on our plate. Resisting, complaining, and wishing things were different makes us feel bad while having to do it anyway.
- When we resist and feel negative about what we have to do anyway, our minutes and hours take on an unpleasant, stressful quality-- that we're waiting to get through.
- Having that stressful attitude is actually creating an unhappy life experience because these appointments, working hard, and long "To Do" lists are what make up our lives.
- Acceptance is about having the best emotional experience we can while doing what we have to do.
If you want a visual to understand what I mean, watch the 1922 silent film Nanook of the North. It's a documentary about the daily lives of an Inuk family. At one point the family was literally building their igloo/house on a daily basis after a day of hunting! And throughout, they are smiling!
So I conclude this post by saying that my acceptance of my busy lifestyle has made me more joyful as I work. I am also more present as I'm doing what I do because I'm not stressing about what I have to do next. I'm walking slower and remembering to take deep breaths. As I've heard on many occasions, "You'll be done when you die."
On Sunday, March 9th at 3 pm, I get to read and discuss Salt in the Sugar Bowl at Quail Ridge Books & Music, a very cool independent bookstore in Raleigh. If you're in the area, please drop by... and tell your friends!
You can buy Salt in the Sugar Bowl from Main Street Rag Publish Company's website, at Barnes & Noble @ New Hope Commons in Durham, and at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.