Saturday, December 24, 2011

Falling Off the Wagon and Into the Apple Cart

My father used to tell my mother, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." The implied meaning was that often, movers and shakers have disciplined their time to get things done...add another event or project and it will merely be incorporated into the plan of action; no qualms, quivers, or hesitations.

I have two thoughts on this. One, yes. Two, no.

Yes, please give it to them! People who are effective multi-taskers do have systems and schedules, rapidly evolving priority lists and deadlines. For the most part, they deliver the goods as promised. Our society makes champions of these people and builds devices to sell to them to get more and more into their schedule. On the flip side, science is now showing us that such a pace is hard on the brain and body entire and prone to burn out these capabilities over time. They're encouraging us to do less and breathe more...for everyone's sake.

No, please find someone who is less-engaged! People who are effective multi-taskers often take on, or are asked to take on many interesting pursuits. At some point, the house of cards begins to crack under such continuous demands, if even implied. For example, have you ever gone up to a super-capable person and just said, "You do so much, we'd love it if you would just be a bystander for our next event." No! Why waste such talent?! Don't let them leave without signing up to bake cookies, sell tickets, show up for vocal practice, wire the sound system, or set up the gallery for the gala! Soon these cherished citizens make themselves scarce, fearing a commitment-request lurking about every corner and social engagement OR become very actively embittered. And conversely, by relying on few, many are left without meaningful connections or tasks.

We all have choices and the capabilities to say yes and no. In this last quarter of the year, I found myself in a self-induced contradiction. I declined an elected board position, twice. Then promptly signed up to bake brownies for a fundraiser, perform a small skit each Sunday of Advent, cashier at another fundraiser, host a holiday two parties, and then JOIN a new company while keeping my day job. I just can't quit saying yes and no.

What I've discovered is that a diversity of pursuits is what keeps life interesting. Being overwhelmed kills my zest for life and enjoyment of people. Now a year into family life, I have been challenged by my peers and worthy causes, family and myself: What defines a worthy pursuit? Further, what do my pursuits require of those around me?

As a practicing Christian, my life is guided my these two principals: Love God. Love others. Anything that gets in the way of these two things, simply must go. The dilemma I have faced is that worthy causes don't seem to tread here...taking care of others honors God. I can't say no.

In taking care of "others" so much, I have risked neglecting those closest to me. I can't say yes, but moreover, I began to understand a more basic tension I didn't see before.

I am now looking at a collective sum: the things I choose must reflect the priorities and needs of a FAMILY, not just myself. "Of course", you say, but I am late coming to this realization because for 18 years of my life, I only had to reflect upon a SOLO frame of reference. Presently, I have FIVE sets of needs, love languages, wants, talents, priorities, and schedules. How do I model consideration and sacrifice, if I"m still on the solo track? It really is a growing and challenging experience for me, this family life!

As we close this year, I find that I am less on the community "band wagon" and more in my family orchard, gathering life-fruits into our "cart". The gifts I am placing on that cart for my family, as we celebrate things "given" this time of year are:
a stronger focus on hospitality and less on entertaining; more outings and less projects; fewer evening commitments and more snuggling; fewer "things" (yes that means helping me sort!) and more relationships (that means helping me invite people over!), more voicing my desire to have you "join me doing 'x'" and less frustration leaving for an event, solo.

May your cart, dear reader, overflow with true essentials this next year.

Happy Christmas to all and have a healthy new year!

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