Thursday, December 07, 2006
THREE WISE WOMEN
At Jennifer Lauck’s “Writing for Life” workshop, she shared the concept that little nuggets of information, of wisdom, would come to us day to day and that we need not worry about writing them down. They would, she said, be there when we needed to pull them out. They are sort of pieces of a tapestry to be woven together later when the time is right. I chuckled at the time, knowing that so many things float in my busy mind as I whiz through life, dashing as if to win a marathon. I pictured these little ideas on post-it notes on one wall of my brain.
I spin and juggle and organize and reorganize, writing down my schedule in fifteen minute increments, knowing that if I don’t, something will fall out of my head and be lost. I know this because in spite of my attempts to control my hectic life, this information fall out happens often. I felt insecure about my post-it note wall of ideas, envisioning them caught up in the craziness in a post-it tornado.
But Jennifer knew that little seeds of wisdom somehow pass through the tornado and plant themselves in the deeper soil of the mind. Unconsciously, I planted three of these seeds together, collected from three wise women. As good seeds do, they sprouted and strengthened and climbed the walls of my mind they have changed the way I view life.
The first seed came from Terry Whitaker, who shared in her writing that everything we do is a choice. There is only “I choose to or I choose not to.” In this theory, “I’ll try to, means I choose not to.” This is quite a revelation to me.
Most of my life has been spent believing that “I have to….”
I have to work.
I have to make a deadline.
I have to do laundry.
I have to bring my kids to functions.
I have to exercise.
I choose to?
I watered this seed with great care as its potential was enormous!
Living this way carries the weight of tremendous personal responsibility, everything around me there because I choose it. But it is balanced with weightless unburdened freedom of choice. I think about everything that makes me feel pushed and pressured. I feel that I ‘have’ to do so many things, dictated by a life filled with deadlines, business and obligation. It is as if life is being done ‘to me’.
I don’t ‘have’ to clean the house.
I ‘choose’ to clean it because I like to be surrounded by order.
I don’t ‘have’ to go to work.
I ‘choose’ to work so that I can live in this house in this town surrounded by stuff I choose to buy.
‘Choosing to’ rather than ‘having to’ is a concept that will require complete reprogramming. There are of course things that we are not in control of choosing. We cannot control others or the weather or illness or the many injustices that surround us, but we can choose how to respond.
Busy-ness bombards me as my business increases and I choose to engage and work through it, leaving little time to spend with my newly sprouted vine of wisdom.
So busy that I hardly noticed the next little seed pushing through its shell and stretching out its fragile, but determined roots. This seed came from Jennifer Lauck in a recent post where she writes about Time. Jennifer speaks of reprogramming her mind to believing that she “has” time rather than being in a state of “not having enough time.”
“I don’t have time” is a phrase I use no less than twenty times a day.
I don’t have time to see that property today.
I don’t have time for this computer problem.
I don’t have time to get to the grocery store.
I don’t have time to listen to you kids fighting.
I don’t have time to write.
I have too much to do!
I have the same amount of time that everyone has. I have every minute of everyday. I have now. God willing, I’ll have tomorrow. Time is the one thing I never run out of until I die!
I have been fooling myself into believing that I was somehow ripped-off on the time thing. That somehow, others got enough and I was short-ended.
But I have every minute.
Every minute is mine.
I have time.
What to do with my minutes is my problem.
How to fill my time is my problem.
How I choose to use my time is my solution.
I watch as these little sprouts take hold and grow. They wrap around one another and grow as one vine and I do not try to separate them.
My choice, my time.
The phone rings, the assignments are faxed and busy-ness reaches a new level for me. More work than ever and I choose to take it. I slide other things over for now, knowing the work will fade away after the Holidays and it is time to ride the wave. I am choosing to let go of some things to make room for the busy-ness this moment. The laundry piles are clean and unfolded, the dinner plan take-out again. My choice for now. So busy that the third seed, quickly tossed and forgotten, goes unnoticed as it forges beyond the neglect of the gardener. This seed was grabbed in haste from Carrie Link, cast quickly to the soil and forgotten.
Carrie wrote recently that ‘who we are’ does not equal ‘what we do.’ This is a concept I have toyed with for years, not having the courage to call myself a writer. What I ‘do’ for a job is different from who I am. I have been a waitress, an appraiser, a teacher. None of those things are who I am at all. But Carrie’s insight went beyond my old debate with calling myself a writer. She talks about how we can ‘do’ so many things without a joyful heart, leaving the doing empty.
I surly can list miles of self-sacrificing deeds as a mother, wife, daughter, friend.
But ‘doing’ without ‘being’ is nothing.
I can give to charity, but if it is out of obligation, it is a taking.
I can fold my husband’s sox, but if I am resenting him for it, they would be better left unfolded.
I can engage my children in activities, but if I am complaining to them about it, I am doing them harm, instead of enriching them.
I can volunteer at school, but if I am angry about giving the time. I am a hypocrite.
The sprout grows and weaves its way in front of my eyes. Its leaves shine and shimmer as it winds it way toward ‘Time’ and ‘Choosing. The three commingle into strong and magnificent growth.
The pace of life will be set by me. I can choose chaos or peace.
I can choose frustration or joy.
I can over-fill my minutes or be gentle with my time.
I can allow busy-ness to become who I am, or I can write.
I am grateful to three wise women for providing these life-changing seeds of wisdom that growing in my garden of thought. I choose to water them, spend time nurturing them and will joyfully fill my life with their blossoms.