Is it sad that the first thing I did on my recent birthday was to log in to my Facebook account to see how many birthday greetings had been posted on my wall? As much of an adult as I think I am, there are still those moments (and occasionally days) when I get all caught up in myself. Who’s thinking about or remembering me today?
I remember once seeing a titillating Facebook ad that asked “who’s been reading your profile?”, tempting me to click on it. And of course, it lead to something else that I had to sign up for in order to see who was looking for me. Which I didn’t. But I’ll just bet you that they got a lot of hits, all because we’re so often obsessed with ourselves and we want to know who else might be!
Having said all of that, I do think that a certain amount of time and space is required to nurture and care for our “selves”. When I first became a mother, I was overwhelmed at the amount of time and attention an infant took, and at some point I became aware of the feeling of having lost my “self” in the process. As much as I wanted to go back to my old “me”, I couldn’t after that. Even as my children grew and my circumstances changed, it was like un-ringing a bell; it couldn’t be done.
Over time, the same thought and attention was given over to my work, and also to my parents who became more and more dependant on my help. My needs became less and less of a priority. The problem is, of course, that we all need a little healthy time spent on ourselves in order to be able to do the best we can for others. I have had guitar students who were new mothers, and I’ve encouraged them to get rid of any guilt they feel for spending a half-hour a week playing guitar to do nothing more than simply to please themselves. A half-hour is nothing, but when you are totally detached from the “real world” for that thirty minutes, it can completely re-energize you.
Which brings me to the point of this post…
Last summer when I took time off from teaching, I had a To Do list as long as your arm. And although I may have accomplished a couple of things on it, I didn’t come anywhere near completing it. Ultimately, that had the opposite effect of “time off” because I felt bad at not having done what I set out to do! And what good is that??
We have some plans for a quick getaway, but only for a few days, so the rest of the time is up to us. And I’ve decided that the travesty of last summer’s To Do list should not be repeated, so my slate is utterly clean. It sounds deliciously self-indulgent, doesn’t it? Especially when you spend most of your week day time preparing for the next job, student, task, client, customer…whatever your job may be. My time off this summer is all about me.
I’m used to teaching in the evenings, so last night, Monday, was my first weekly evening off. And I had no idea what to do with myself. I tried sitting out on the back deck and reading. I spent time on my laptop, perusing this and that. But I was restless. My husband, who is used to spending alone time in the evenings since I’m always teaching, said that I would eventually figure it out, but I think this “me time” is going to take some getting used to.
Simply going from one moment to the next is a different way to live, even if just for a little while. It makes me realize how much of my life is lived habitually. You get up, you read the paper, you shower, you have breakfast, you get on with your day. I’m still doing the first four; it’s the “rest of the day” that I’m not used to having unplanned. Is this what retirement is going to be like?
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Now I’ve got to get on to whatever the next thing is…dum, dee dum…