I’m on a campaign to minimize stress in my life. Call it baby-steps if you want, but I’m figuratively taking the bull by the horns and making some changes. One of the things I’m doing is reading, responding, deleting and filing emails on a daily basis. I decided a week ago that I couldn’t continue to handle the on-going pressure of scores of emails that continued to be unopened. Trust me, the quagmire of unopened email on either of my computers makes traffic congestion in Austin look like nothing. Where did all these emails come from?
Sure, on a daily basis, I’ve always quickly scanned my list of incoming emails for “important” communications that needed attention. I’m not sure I how I found myself subscribed to hundreds of emails from great sources intent on supporting my edification on any number of topics. Bottom line – I simply can’t keep up with it.
I probably could have asked the General for assistance. She loves the concept of de-cluttering. However, I suspect the task could have been the beginning of another lecture series. I don’t need lectures. I don’t need superfluous emails. I don’t need to stay holed up in my office in front of my computer most of the time.
I need open spaces. I need people contact. I need time for sharing a cup of hot chai tea and conversation with people I value, but don’t have contact with often enough. I have a friend who retired six weeks ago and I have yet to make contact. What kind of friend am I? In addition, I have a friend from the first grade that I want to visit with soon. I’ve been telling myself that for over a year. I used to do a better job of staying on top of the things that promote a sense of wellbeing. I’ve got to figure out a way to do it differently. Baby steps – one day at a time – one step at a time. I will get there.
Don’t get me wrong. Every day thoughts fill my head with nice things that I could do for people. When it comes to good intentions, I’m not at a loss. I can think of a thousand and one things worthy of my time. They are the kind of things that would affirm and support others.
The problem is my good intentions, far too often, fall by the wayside. What about you? Do you follow through with the passing thoughts of nice things you could do for other people? I don’t care what they say; it really isn’t the thought that counts. What counts is actually doing something to support someone else.
Historically, one of the things that has fueled my fire is the content I find in books. I used to find time to devote to reading. What better way to find yourself in the midst of someone else’s story? Years ago, a friend gave me a copy John Ortberg’s book: “Everybody Is Normal Until You Get To Know Them”. I suspect it is worthy of a re-read.
As I recall, the book focuses on the importance of the connections and the reality at some level, we are all a little weird. I guess you could say: “Some more than others”. Ortberg likens most of us (actually all of us) to something you’d find at a sidewalk sale. We look good on the surface, but once you get to know us, a flaw or blemish surfaces that some would think devalues our value and worth.
When my daughter and son-in-law got married, I mentioned in their wedding ceremony that the two of them never looked better than they did on their wedding day. My daughter had never be happier or more radiant. I suspect the same was true for Kevin. Because of their delight in one another through the bonds of a loving relationship, they were choosing to love for life.
But the analogy of a sidewalk sale fell into play. I suggested to the bride and goom that they probably wouldn’t find it in the next week or two. However, with the passage of time, eventually they’d have an “aha-moment” and realize there was a blemish or flaw in the person they married. Damaged goods – don’t we all fall into that category?
I know that to be true, because it is true of all of us. We are broken people living in a broken world. Consequently, the concept of forgiveness, gentle redirection and acceptance and support had to fill the on-going relationship. They were entering into a life-long commitment and the signage was clear: “NO RETURNS”.
In his book, Ortberg states that one of the problems we face is a time management issue. We devote massive amounts of time to things that don’t really satisfy while ignoring the experience for which we were created. Ortberg calls it, “community”. One of the takeaways he identifies is simple: “If you think you can fit deep community into the cracks of an overloaded schedule – think again. Wise people do no try to microwave friendship, parenting, or marriage”.
Don’t we all fill our calendars with too many scheduled activities? Maybe I’m selfish, but I like free time. I like to fly by the seat of my pants and live impromptu. I don’t want to have my calendar serve as a ball and chain that ties me to this and that. Too much stuff one’s calendar precludes spontaneity. I was born free – I’ve got to stay that way.
I can hear the sound of Born Free playing in my head as I write these words: “Born free, as free as the wind blows, As free as the grass grows – Born free to follow you heart”.
I’ve got the email problem tackled for now and I don’t plan to go back to a back-log of emails. I’ve hit the “unsubscribe” button on everything that had an “unsubscribe” button.
The sun will be up shortly and I’m going for a walk. I’m going to embrace balance in my life. I’m going to look for the two-lane country back roads like my life depends on it. Actually, it does.
All My Best!