Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The B Word

Tacking up a fresh new calendar always improves my mood after the craziness of the holidays and those fresh pages seem to invite reinvention. Now is as good a time as any to make some changes that might make my life easier, better, or more productive.

One year, more than a decade ago, I decided to quit apologizing for the state of my house. You know how it sounds. “Oh, do come in and just ignore this huge mess. I’m so sorry I haven’t had time to clean up.” In a home as jam-packed with kids and animals as ours has always been, no one ever comes through my front door to a shining, organized living space.

It used to bother me a lot, but I realized two things. One is that it bothers me far more than anyone else. The other is that apologizing for the mess that is life around here just draws attention to it and puts the listener in the awkward spot of reassuring me that my mess isn’t really important. Which, of course, I should already know and therefore quit talking about.

It truly freed me when I broke that habit. Now I’m tackling a new one.

When asked, “How are you?” my standard answer is, “Busy.” I’m not unlike zillions of other people on that. Much has been said about our busy culture and how we should all simplify and relax and breathe. I don’t know about you, but simplifying sometimes seems like just another thing to put on my to-do list.

Is laundry on your to-do list too?
We are all busy. No need to compare our rosters of paying jobs, volunteer positions, kid activities, social plans, hobbies, etc. Comparing my busy to yours just leads us down a spiral of exhaustion. And, because we are so busy, we don’t need anything else to exhaust us.

The problem for me is that the “so busy” refrain sounds like a lament. As in, “I wish I weren’t so busy. One day I hope to be less busy. I only hope I can survive being so busy.” I’m seeing that focusing on my own busy pace, much like focusing on my messy living room, puts the listener in an awkward spot.

We are all busy. That’s worth repeating.  But when I take a step back and look at my long to-do list I see clearly. That list is the result of decisions I’ve made that have led to a happy life full of things that bless me far more than they exhaust me. Though relaxing is important, busy is good. 

Which, of course, I should already know and therefore quit talking about.

I’m going to give it a shot.