I read this thing…(January 3)

Pleasepleaseplease remember that, despite every Pinterest board you’ve ever set your eyes on: Your life is not actually measured by the number of breaths you take, or (WAIT FOR IT) “by the moments that take your breath away.”… But, rather, your life is measured by—surprise!—absolutely nothing at all.

(And that incredibly optimistic message is the one I wanted to shower you with today.)

Look. Nobody’s grading you. Nobody’s keeping score. Nobody’s sitting behind the curtain, waiting to reveal you as some evil fraud. And if we’re being honest? You’ve been so busy that you don’t even know what your life is measured by, either.

All you’ve been thinking about lately are the things your business is measured by. Subscribers. Sales numbers. Profit margins. Stats.

But what about the number of inside jokes you have with your lover? Have you been measuring those? Or the number of times “Achy Breaky Heart” came on the radio and you belted out every single (godawful) word? How about the number of minutes you actually spent admiring the Christmas tree this year? Did you even spend any? Or the days when—shocker—you didn’t open the computer?

Ash Ambirge, The Middle Finger Project (Full post here)

I call this the curse of what could I have done or what should I have done with my time? And I am as guilty of it as anyone.

We don’t have to measure everything we do. Not all activities need to be productive. So what if you want to spend a Saturday afternoon immersed alone with a book. Who cares if you want to write a short story for your friends’ entertainment or play rounds of video games with your son. These moments count. They count for ourselves, our sanity, and our friendships.

I urge everyone to make time for yourself. Make time for your loved ones. Let it be “unproductive,” whatever that means. Be a kid again.

Reminds me of what Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

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4 comments

  1. This is great. I have had several students in particular where most of what we worked on was trying to reshape a mindset where they told themselves if something wasn’t practical it was worthless. One international student phrased it perfectly when she talked about how she was focusing all her time on the grad program she hated and ignoring what she called the “colorful things” in life. The things that she would remember when she was 85 and looking back on her youth. None of that was happening in the classroom. The other thing that I think this idea relates to is how we have shifted to “busy” being the new “ok”. When we bump into people and they ask ” how are you” instead of answering “good” we now say “busy”. As if we always have to be showing our value and worth. This is a great editorial on it. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=0

    1. Thanks, Ryan. Maybe it started earlier (in high school or before) but college seems to be the time that ‘restlessness’ became a word I attached to my behavior. Friends were doing this and classmates were doing that. I felt I had to run in each and every direction to keep up with them. Be involved in this activity and help this group and partake in this discussion and, well, the point is made. I still feel this way and the stress it causes is frustrating at best and downright haunting at worst. Its a fight I wage every day.

      I think your student phrased it correctly when she said she missed the colorful things in life by focusing too much time in a single direction. It’s a difficult thing to balance, sometimes, because I think a narrow focus can help us step back, experience and appreciate the colorful moments. I know from my own life, that without a clear vision/ focus, I fall victim to overinvolvment and spread my time too thin. With that said, an appreciation for subtle moments, the world and people around us, the small, meaningful conversations that can arise from nowhere must accompany that focus. Somehow we must know all the trees in the forest while still seeing the beauty of that forest.

      I enjoyed the editorial. My favorite line: It’s hard to find anything to say about life without immersing yourself in the world, but it’s also just about impossible to figure out what it might be, or how best to say it, without getting the hell out of it again.

      This, my friend, is perhaps the biggest question I hope to solve this year.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  2. So right, Kelly. I retired this year and have enjoyed visiting coffee shops, sleeping in, bird watching, & gazing at the Lake. Still have that niggling voice in my head telling me to quit goofing off and do something productive. Trying to find a way to unplug it and savor freedom.

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