Have Fun. Great idea. I’ll get to that right after I get a few other things done. Hey fellow workaholics, does that sound familiar? It is easy to to get too wrapped up in career, taking care of the house, fixing the world, or whatever. Step one is recognizing that balance is required. Step two is deciding to do something about it. Step three is actually balancing. Feel free to skip steps one and two and go straight to three. This week I forgot to get past step two. I had fun, but the balance was tipped far to the work side. Time to load up the other side of the scale.
Friday I was going to take the day off. Thursday night’s talk about my walk across Scotland went better than I expected. It was a packed house at Wander on Whidbey and people seemed to enjoy the show. We’ve even talked about an reprise, and maybe a show about my ride across America. I had a good time, otherwise I wouldn’t do as much public speaking as I do. Getting ready for the event, coordinating on three unrelated video projects, writing a book, editing another, setting up a couple of classes in November, as well as helping out friends, filled a week. I know myself. I knew that much work has to be balanced with hours of down time. See? I can be trained!
Friday morning started wonderfully. It was just my kind of sleep-in day. Rain quieted the neighborhood. Thick clouds delayed dawn and slowly settled into a subdued blanket that encouraged reading and sleeping on the couch for hours. I’ve always thought that such days were the inspiration for Seattle’s literary and coffee cultures. Pardon me as I take a sip of tea while the wind chimes barely strike a tone. This morning is a repeat of yesterday. Nice.
But the couch got very little use. Another opportunity to talk arose. One of the local bookstores sent out a call for speakers to fill a gap in their November schedule. Sign me up! I spent some time picking the topic with the planner, organizing the publicity materials, formatting everything, and sending out the packet. The first time for any new talk can take hours of development. While that packet went out, a message came in that a sales venue was moving and I had to pick up my unsold art by the end of the week instead of the end of the month. In addition to my plan of reading and napping, I had planned to write a bit, and spend time in the kitchen preparing for a couple of social events.
My day filled.
As the sun went down I was done, except for the writing and the photography shoot that required something called sunlight or a really long time on a sturdy tripod. It was time for a dinner with friends. Finally, balance. Nope. I’d loaded one side up too much. Walking up to the door I realized that I had no reserves. My energy would probably come back with dinner, but I knew that wouldn’t be soon because I was carrying the groceries. At least that also meant that I was carrying the wine.
I’d gone too far. One drink, one dinner, one evening probably was enough to counter nearly a week’s work, but adding one more day to the wrong side of the balance meant much more would be required to even things out.
One of the reasons I retired early was that I burned out. I was passionate about my work and concentrated on it from interest and enthusiasm, not from a love of money or a feeling of obligation – well maybe a little of the latter. I am one of those lucky few who got a job doing the work they went to school for. I worked on the technologies that I thought would help us spread into space. I like humans and think we should have more than one place to live, for safety, and for the expansion of our collective soul. Evidently though, I didn’t take enough vacations because my own soul grew tired, which wasn’t a safe thing to do.
A friend has a motto that I’ll paraphrase, “If you want a better world, throw a better party.” (Sorry Rick, I can’t find your web site.) I agree.
Too much work, whether it is for improving society, health, the environment, or even finances, is led by passionate people who devote their lives to their causes. The causes need their efforts. Luckily, sometimes those agents of change have found that balance within their efforts. They love what they do, and it provides them with joy and balance. I’m still working on that one. I feel for those who seem to be spending their life energy without replenishment. A few charities and advocacy groups come to mind that could use new volunteers and board members. The existing ones need some time to recuperate.
So, here’s to the other side of the scale. Here’s to balancing life within life regardless of money. Here’s to friends, time together, maybe with that glass of wine.
But first, I want to finish this blog post, clean up the house a bit, finish one of those writing tasks from yesterday, and get ready for a party tonight. Party = good. Reading and napping on the couch? That’s good too. Maybe I’ll get around to it tomorrow.