It’s amazing what happens when you remove yourself from the everyday grind. All of a sudden the world is full of possibilities. We get to sit still and think instead of rushing to address the next thing on our never-ending list. We have new ideas, we get creative.
I grew up always working and lining up the next thing to do on my list. Idle time meant laziness. My mother worked fulltime, then cleaned our house from top to bottom every week and when she finally sat down, she knitted sweaters, made table cloths and hooked carpets. My father was gone all day and manufactured dies in his basement workshop on the side.
So it seems only natural to always work. After all isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as human beings? Free time is for the rich and the lazy. We have purpose when we work. We are busy, we make a living. While it is certainly important to pay bills and save for retirement, for most of us, this is also called a “rut.” And whenever we are in a rut, we put thinking aside. In fact, part of the rut is to fill the remaining bits of time with phone calls, texting, e-mail, Facebook, TV and video games. Just about anything is better than to do “nothing.”
But here is the thing, if you sit quietly, you’re actually working hard. Your mind expands as you explore new paths. Now that I’m on vacation in a quiet place, I can finally reflect. About my life, my family. Where I am and where I want to go. All of a sudden it is okay to stare out the window with nothing in my hands. The phone is quiet, the laptop is packed away (most of the time).
So, if you can stop for a moment and take a break. You don’t have to be on vacation. Even a half hour during the weekend will allow you to begin this process of climbing out of your rut. Do it now, put “thinking” on your to-do list. And be amazed what happens.
It’s not Thanksgiving anymore, but watching videos of people attacking each other on Black Friday sort of brought into focus, what I find important to remember.
If I think over the items I’ve purchased during the year I can’t recall any lingering enjoyment from any of them. In fact, most of the time I can’t even remember what I bought. Sure some gadgets make my life easier. But how important is it really to have another sweater or the newest Smartphone?
What really brings me joy and lingering memories are the people in my life: My husband Ben and his steadfast support of my writing career, our breakfasts together every morning, our walks and discussions. Well, many other things that would make this blog a mile long.
And then there are my kids. They have grown into wonderful adults with strong heads on their shoulders. What fun to sit around the dinner table and discuss sex. Yes, we do that among many other subjects. We play games and listen to music. Sometimes we squabble. I’m thankful for that, too.
Let’s not forget our elderly dog, Mocha. She’s been with us for nearly ten years, always attentive and protecting our home, always loving —okay, I admit she loves Ben most of all. What a treat to have her around.
And then there are our families and friends who tolerate our idiosyncrasies, our strange eating habits and going to bed at nine p.m. I’m thankful to have them in my life.
Visits and time spent with all of them is what truly is memorable and makes the difference. These I do remember throughout the year. Because they stay in my heart no matter what I’m doing or where I am. So, instead of buying a new sweater and putting yourself into debt over the holidays, spent time with your family and friends or write a letter if you’re too far away. I’m not saying you should not find meaningful gifts for your loved ones. But tone it down a notch. Quit the craziness of American consumerism. Rebel.
Lastly I’m thankful for myself, having a strong body that allows me to exercise and sleep well, that attempts to age gracefully—including the droopy spots—and a mind that allows me to write unusual and entertaining stories and get such enjoyment from creating them.
So, you see my Christmas list is long, but it is long with thanks and not stuff.
P.S.If you need more incentives to think about your stuff, watch the amazing comedian George Carlin “on stuff.”