Monday, August 24, 2015

Contentedness and Busyness

Judging from the date stamp on my last post on my blog, I guess I can admit to being overly busy for a while. I have to chuckle at myself every few days when I briefly scan and then promptly delete the emails I receive from bloggers touting the importance of simplifying our lives. I don't have time to read that. Perhaps I should. 
A friend recently posted something about a challenge - going 200 days without buying stuff. It sparked something in me. Lately I have become frustrated with our living of the 'American Dream'. Our peaceful, picture-perfect suburban life, free of real worry or true problems. Yes, I'd love to have another bathroom, a bigger house, an attached garage that our cars would fit in. But that is nothing compared to what most people on our planet worry about. And when I sit down and think about it, I am nothing but content with this life. But it is that contentedness that has been plaguing me lately. There is more to life than finding contentedness, isn't there? I worry that my children will become too sheltered, too entitled, too content in their lives that they will not go on to be the change-makers the world so desperately needs. So how do we balance the strong desire to protect our kids, to give them a 'better life', all while showing them how deeply unfair this world is? I guess we try. We take them on mission trips, we volunteer at FMSC, but is it enough? They always come back to their clean, comfy beds and full tummies at night, with few cares. Will it be enough?
And now back to the busy-ness. How does one strike a balance between the desire to always be helpful, to say yes, to make things better, and the need to cut back to a point where there is time for what is important, for life and kids and adventures?
Does anyone else find that difficult?
A great example of this is the butterfly garden I helped plant with Hannah's girl scout troop when she was in first grade. It is still there, in front of City Hall, and it is terribly overgrown. I now help lead Evie's Brownie troop and while we go there every spring to clean it up and plant the annuals, it is a frequent reminder of how the busy-ness has me spread too thin. I'd love to have that garden in tip-top shape, to keep the Girl Scouts on top of caring for it regularly (to even recall once more which plants are supposed to be where), but it is just one of a bajillion things that I keep saying yes to and time runs out. So it sits. And I feel badly. I suppose I should look into handing that over to someone else. Someone who might have a need for some project to fill their time and desires to be a helper. And maybe that is what needs to happen with a lot of things. 
Sometimes people ask incredulously, "how do you do all that?!" in response to my numerous jobs and volunteer activities. It's not that I am better at anything, in fact maybe it is the opposite. I'm just not good at recognizing the reality of the limits of time. I always think I can add just one more thing and it won't be too bad. But then I am caught up, trying to figure out how to get five people to three different places and in the panic-stricken moments, I lose something precious. I lose the ability to focus on the present (to be content?).

So here is my pact with myself: 
I will intentionally cut down on the busyness, saying no when I can; I will continue to work toward attaining a career that might allow my family to seek out opportunities to live and adventure in this world, not just be consumers of it; 
I will cut back on our buying of 'stuff', while I may not join the 200 days of not buying anything, I will at least force myself to live with more awareness of our consumerism.