Funny how our life priorities change over time as we learn what actually brings us joy versus trying to adopt what brings other people joy, to our lives. Even as we shed some of our own ideas as we age, we come to a point of revelation such as King Solomon did. He had everything – but one day he realized he had nothing, yet in nothing, he had everything. I suppose that’s the point where I am in life: understanding that my everything is in the nothing. I’ve been striving for accomplishments from my earliest years, not realizing that my real accomplishments were the little things: learning to tie a shoe, be kind, pray, turn my creativities into something that either blesses others or provides for my financial needs. Even navigating relationships, becoming a mother, learning new skills, experiencing new places, trying new foods, meeting different people. These are my accomplishments. With each year, my accomplishments weave together into a total experience that isn’t more complex – it’s simple.
And it’s now, at the age of 51, that I understand the worries and striving in life were unnecssary. I was trying to “get” somewhere, to be something “when I grow up”, but really – I was becoming something as I was getting older. And now, I don’t strive to reach some lofty goal – I just do what I’m supposed to do. And I love what I do. I love to work because what I’m working at is my calling, my destiny. What I’m doing now is a culmination of all my little accomplishments from the time I was born. And in 5, 10, 20-years, I’ll still be working at my purpose, and loving it, but will have more little accomplishments to enhance my being.
Today, as I take a break from work, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, munching on a ham on rye sandwich, browsing one of my favorite magazines. I’ve always loved magazines. My first subscription was as a teenager, VICTORIAN magazine. I loved all the beautiful rose and cream hues, elegant flowers, dreamy photos, vintage wax seal creations, and poetry. I didn’t read the articles much – mainly looking at the photos as I thumbed through pages. It’s what inspired me to try my hand at calligraphy and I ordered a wax and seal set that I used for nearly a decade. I even purchased proper Victorian calling cards as a young teenager, though I never handed out a single one.
I still like to browse the images in my stacks of magazines, but these days I take more time to read the articles. They used to be so momentarily inspiring and fun to read. But today I suddenly realize, as I read an article about making a spring to-do list, my thoughts and reaction to the article are quite different than in the past. Initially, I think of how nice it would be to have such leisure as these women who write the articles all seem to have. It seems so lovely to float through my home, admiring my collectibles and perfectly decorated home to take time to write out a clever and creative to-do list that makes others enviable of my list to the point that one makes lists to just to make pretty lists.
However, I quickly stop and recant that thought.
I wouldn’t like a leisurely life at all. Not to mention I highly doubt the writers of such articles actually have the organized and leisurely lives they portray. Perhaps they do – to a point. If it truly is something that they are able to incorporate into their lives – wonderful! What a lovely life of idillyc pursuits. I personally do not know of a single person who has such openness in their day as to sit down and write lofty lists of creative pursuits, or make spring cleaning sound like a delightful vintage fair.
I’m not criticizing – just suddenly hit with a dose of practicality. Unfortunately, it taints what used to be my momentary pleasure of daydreaming. I think, “Who has time for lists?” Especially lists that make daily chores sound like a vacation.
By the time I sit down and, sipping my coffee, wrap my favorite cozy sweater or blanket around me, feet curled under, staring out the window dreaming of the creative things I could do to make everyday chores more palatable – I could have done several items on the list and then returned to daily responsibilities and engagements.
At my age – with wishful thinking and ruminations whittled down to understanding my deepest heart’s desire and giving all my focus and attention on that – I find that I embrace practicality over daydreams. I do enjoy the few blissful moments I have to flip through colorful pages but I find I look for the inspirational, yes, but the practical versus the wishful. Practicality is far more delightful and attractive than a dream. I’m understanding that there is a difference between dreams and imaginations.
Does this mean I throw away my imagination and my desire for the impractical? Not at all. I’m a creative – I need the impractical to give me inspiration and keep my spirit alive.
But I look for it in snippets;
10-minutes between projects;
While I scarf down a half-sandwich of ham on rye and a chapter in a book.
These are moments that please me. It fills my soul. I feel satisfied. And, honesty, I digest more. I ponder these snippets of time. Also, I’ve learned to filter quickly what is beneficial to my imaginitive 10-minutes. Articles on spring to-do lists don’t inspire me, but an article on noticing the little things on a walk through the woods completly engulfs my attention. And as I take my afternoon walk, I remember that article.
Then, it’s back to work. Work isn’t a bad thing, it’s a blessing.
Being busy is draining and unimpressive, but having a full schedule, trimmed to hold just the right amount of the right things, is good.
Do I dream of long days in the country, canning applesauce in the kitchen, cutting wildflowers and hanging them to dry, or sitting on the porch in a wood rocking chair for hours and hours staring at God’s wonderful creation? Not as much as before. It does sound lovely for a day or two, but there’s a restlessness – a calling in my deepest parts. With each day it grows louder and louder and, no, it is not a burden, it’s a joy.
My work, that is.
Takes long hours.
And I love it.
To be exactly where I know God wants me to be (versus me moving and “trying” things out to see where I fit) and doing exactly what I was made for…that’s better than any vacation or daydream in the world. Sure, I’d love to have hours to read a book uninterrupted, try new homemade recipes, take trips to see Santorini, Jerusalem, walk the paths of the Celtic Saints, and so much more – but only if it was part of a greater purpose.
Anymore, I find I believe going somewhere just to go is a waste of purpose and time. I have no desire to “get-away”. I don’t need rest from my work, I’ve discovered rest IN my work.
Think about this…when we take “vacations” we cram extra hours of work beforehand, stress ourselves out, go on a trip that is rarely restful, come home stressed with all the work that has piled up since we left and it takes a month to recover from being gone for a week.
No, thank you. Been there, done that. Not fun. It’s exhausting.
Someone else can have their vacations, fancy to-do lists, and daydreams. I’ll take my daily 10-minute snippet of inspiration with my ham on rye sandwich and call it good.