Monday, September 6, 2010
The first thing I learned was I could actually survive without watching TV during every spare moment I had. My family and I did so many things with our free time: played games, did puzzles, went to the fair, played golf as a family, read books . . . and so much more.
Granted, toward the end my efforts to record every possible moment fell apart. I honestly became bored with the project. The fun and spontaneity left me around week eight. I found myself reluctant to record new events and experiences. I prayed for the next four weeks to pass quickly. Not because I was looking forward to getting our satellite service turned back on (which we have decided not to do). Rather I must admit I was frustrated that I didn't complete more than 200 things. I certainly wasn't expecting to reach 1,001 items, but 200 seemed almost fruitless. Once I began working full-time, keeping track of the few items I was able to complete each day seemed . . . pointless. After all, wasn't the whole exercise to use the summer to really live life?
What I failed to realize when I began the project was this would be the first summer I had worked full-time in more than a decade. I didn't realize by the time you work 8 to 5 you still need to come home, cook dinner, and clean up the dishes. By this time, it was almost 7 o'clock and I must admit I was pretty exhausted from such a full day. So I had a couple of hours to try to cram in as much “stuff” as possible. By week eight I was done. All desire to try new things had left me. I must admit most nights I was ready to crawl into bed around 8 o'clock and sleep until I had to get up in the morning and do it all over again. But I tried to persevere.
The second thing I learned is that being a parent and working full-time is very difficult. I honestly don't know how people do it. I am so thankful that for 10 years I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. That in itself is a difficult job. But what I was able to do in a 16-hour period of my day, I now only had about two hours of time. Chores were neglected and excuses were made. I would be frustrated that I had to complete all this “household stuff” when I knew I also had the task of trying to complete a seemingly impossible list of things that were new and interesting. It was no longer fun . . . it had become work.
I have been working full-time now for just over a month. I still feel completely overwhelmed and disorganized. Now that school has started, there is a whole new element thrown into the mix – homework and extra-curricular activities. I have been questioning myself lately whether I am up for the task. Because the full-time work is not going to disappear. Nor will school activities, exercise, music, writing and other creative activities. And throw on top of it all a very busy church life . . .
. . . my head is reeling!
The final, and I think most important, thing I learned is that if we hadn't discontinued our satellite service for the summer months I would still be doing the same thing. Coming home from work, eating dinner, sitting in front of the TV for several hours, snacking, doing nothing physical whatsoever, and feeling crappy by the time I rolled into bed. I would be angry and depressed that “life is passing me by and I have nothing to show for it”. I would be feeling sorry for myself that “I never do anything interesting”.
But instead, I have read books I've been meaning to read for months . . . years. I have listened to and appreciated new music. I golfed more this summer than in my whole life. I began a life-saving exercise program. I attended two glorious weddings and several 50th wedding anniversaries. I have seen a bride and groom dance their first dance as husband and wife. I have seen a husband tenderly embrace his wife of 50 years as they danced after almost losing her to a heart attack. I have celebrated life and I have mourned death.
I have lived.