Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Having It All
photo by Coral
The idea of having it all infects our hopes and dreams, our doubts and fears, our books and movies and songs. Is it possible? "Of course!" we say on a good day. "Of course not!" we say on a hard day. This morning I was thinking about my friends who work, who have kids and homes and dishes and laundry, and still get out of the house every day and earn a living. The best I can approximate a work life is to write on the heavenly mornings both girls are in school. I consider it a major act of self care if I sit down to write instead of clean the house.
I saw a friend at the coffee shop the other morning getting her latte before work. Me, seeing her looking sharp and professional for work, she looked like she had it all. Her, seeing me, writing, she looked at me and thought I had it all. Within a minute she said she hungered for an unscheduled moment to walk, breathe, write. I said in the following minute I craved the structure and sense of accomplishment that comes from meaningful work, outside the home. And then we just cracked up. We are struggling to balance the range of our dreams, goals, expectations. Our children, our marriages, our waistlines. And the feeling of always having something that is not getting done, something important that is being left out, is persistent. This morning I left the dishes undone, packed my computer and headed back to the coffee shop after dropping everyone off at school. Leaving the dishes in the sink is as profound a symbol as I know for putting myself first. And that got me thinking, maybe having it all is about putting your self first often enough.
Maybe having it all is not the clean house, the brushed hair, the book deal, the kids with no boogers on their faces, the great job, the thriving marriage. Maybe having it all is having enough of any one of those things, one at a time. In the spirit of "be here now" how many things can be perfect all at once anyway?
Leaving the dishes in the sink is hard for me. I do not suffer from OCD, I swear. But what that says to me is, I think my time, me, is less important than a clean house. What if I say, no, I am more important than a clean house? That sounds fairly obvious, so why is it hard to remember, why is that hard to feel?
Here is my radical redefinition of having it all, as of today: putting myself first often enough, in ways and places that mean the most to me. That will be work, but I know one thing for sure, it will be rewarding, is rewarding, and that sink full of dishes can wait.