Easier said than done?
How many of us haven’t had to give up hobbies, cancel vacation plans, or postpone pursuit of goals because of job or family responsibilities, an accident, or a financial setback? Even more often, though, the frustration is likely to be the result of letting everyday chores, unnecessary “busy work,” or the opinion of others get in our way, or of letting unnoticed expenses drain our bank accounts.
Standing in the check-out line at the drug store, Jolene, a harried young mother, was riffling the pages of a crafts magazine when the gray-haired woman behind her spoke up.
“You look so wistful, honey.”
Jolene quickly rescued the magazine from the grasp of her two-year-old, who let out a howl. “Oh, it’s all this neat stuff!–Mandy, hush now!–I don’t have time for projects nowadays,” she said.
“You can make the time…can’t you?”
Jolene groaned. “Don’t I wish! Working full-time! And with my husband and the baby!”
But the woman cheerfully insisted. “You can do it. You can give up something else.”
Jolene shook her head. “There’s dinner, and dishes, and laundry and cleaning.”
The older woman paused, then said, “Well, I know better than to tell you to ask your husband to help out. So many of them won’t.”
“You can say that again! And it isn’t because he doesn’t know how!” Jolene started to unload her purchases on to the counter.
“Could you squeak by if you only worked part-time?”
“I think so, but he likes the extra money.”
“Now that’s a problem!” She was silent for a moment. “We were tied to our jobs for years. Then my husband got sick….”
“And now you can’t go anywhere?” guessed Jolene.
“Right. Or do anything much. Even if he weren’t sick—inflation—we waited too long, that’s all there is to it.”
Later, Jolene’s thoughts returned to that unexpected conversation. She couldn’t convince her husband to help with the chores or to let her work only part-time, but now, while he lies in front of the television after dinner, she rinses the dishes to put in the dishwasher, then relaxes, too. As soon as Mandy is in bed, Jolene does macramé, or studies books on ceramics and weaving, interests she had given up when she got married because her husband thought they were a waste of time and money. She also has an answer ready in the event he starts complaining about the untidy apartment.
Not reaching desired goals because we feel the need to take life easy for a while is one thing. Not following ambitions because something or someone else blocks our path is quite another. An ant is not often forced to be a grasshopper, after all. But in today’s world, he or she is frequently coerced into being the wrong species of ant.
Could it be time for us to set aside those “needs” that have cluttered center stage long enough in our lives? Sometimes we can stubbornly say, “Enough! No more free repairs for anyone else this summer,” or “We’re not subscribing to any more magazines that we aren’t going to read!” In other cases, like Jolene, we may need to be prodded into making changes, into overcoming roadblocks.
Read the entire article in Between the Spaces of a Writer’s Life, available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle.