This is your life

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

What, I wonder, are you actually doing with your time? This may seem like a silly question, but I will ask it anyway – are the things that you spend your days on; are they the things that you want to be doing?

Have you ever thought or said that you would love to (take a class, write a book, have a meditation or yoga practice, go on a retreat, travel) but you just don’t have the time? Feeling like you’re too busy to live the life you want is very common.

I know you’re busy. We all are.

But hear this: this is your life. With just a few tweaks, you can and will get to live your life the way that you want. If you’re not doing that, then there is only one person responsible, and it’s not your parents, your partner, your children, your boss or anybody else.

It’s up to you.

Now, I know what can happen, truly I do. Hello P&C, community growers market, various committees, kids activities, family obligations. There are those things that you didn’t want to do, but said yes to because you couldn’t figure out a way to say no, or maybe it was a good idea at the time, but two years later you’re kind of over it. You know what I’m talking about.

I call these things ‘shoulds’ – we feel as though we should do them because of duty, debt or dependence, but they weigh heavily upon us. We feel tired, resentful, even angry at the thought of these tasks, but still we do them, because we made a commitment, or because nobody else will, or even because we’re irreplaceable. God/dess complex anyone?

Our lives represent a series of decisions that we have made. We have said ‘yes’ to this and ‘no’ to other things. We are also free to make other choices as we go along – just because we have made a choice at some stage does not automatically carve it in stone.

I want to go out on a limb here, and say this: don’t let your life be full of ‘shoulds’, because every ‘should’ drains a bit of your life force, leaving resentment and exhaustion in its path. It doesn’t matter if you made a commitment, or nobody else will do it, or if you’re irreplaceable (you’re not). If you’re doing something half-heartedly, then you’re not doing anybody any favours.

Yes, people may get a bit upset when we stop doing things for them. That’s okay. Talk to them, explain what is going on for you, thank them, and then move on. From my experience, the shoulds that I stopped doing because I could no longer do them without creating an energy debt, were picked up by other more suitable people for whom that task was not a should. Someone who was able to do it whole heartedly. Or, nobody picked it up, it fell away, and that’s okay as well. Let it go.

 

Remember, the only one who should be driving your vehicle is the person who has your very best interests at heart (you). Your backseat drivers can be loud, but their hands should not be on your steering wheel.

I can’t emphasise this enough: it’s your life, and you get to choose. 

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10 comments

    • Hello David ❤️ Yes, I think we have all experienced a commitment that has gone past its use by date but is difficult to be extricated from. As we get older, I think, we get much more discerning about what we put our hands up for!

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  1. Thanks for that thoughtful advice. Yes, we need to do some “shoulds” but we can certainly get overwhelmed by them.

    (Always interesting when you all are going into spring and summer as we going to fall and winter. It’s hopeful knowing half the world’s moving into the light.)

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    • Hullo Georgia ❤️ Yes, I agree that there are shoulds we need to attend to, but we need to make sure that they are aligned with our larger goals and priorities.
      And yes, there is always hope ☀️

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