Dear Busy Person,
I love you and I’m worried about you. I have noticed that you are spending a lot of time trying to keep up with things. It looks like you are working very hard all the time just to keep everything afloat.
I can tell from all the way over here that you are tired, and stressed.
You seem to have a hard time saying no to things, for yourself and for your family. You seem to take on a lot. Sometimes I wonder, do you really need to do all this? Can you cut back, just a little?
I wonder, do your kids love and adore every activity they are signed up for? What would happen if they didn’t learn to play the flute in elementary school? What would happen if they only played soccer and skipped swimming for a few months? Would that be ok?
What about you? Would the world collapse if you stopped managing so very much? Can you delegate and really let go on a few action items? Would your house be overrun by rats and cockroaches if you let it slide once in awhile? Would people judge you harshly if you said you weren’t available to take that new project on?
It has been one month since my eye surgery left me without binocular vision, without depth perception. It’s been one month of acute double vision, one month of eye patching. A month without leaving the house, gardening, or feeling capable, competent or normal. It’s been a month of periodic panic, a month of helplessness, a month of looking for patience and finding mostly fear.
It’s been one hell of a month.
The interesting thing about losing my functional vision, dear Busy Person, is that it has enabled me to see certain things far more clearly. Sitting around the house for a month gives one time to observe.
I see things like my own stubborn refusal to ask for help over the past two years. I see and cringe over the memories I didn’t make with my baby boy because I was so proud and busy being productive. I see the love and support that has always been there, waiting for the moment when I was brought low enough to ask for it.
My friend says, “It’s easy to get down on your knees when you’ve been punched in the gut.” How true.
Me? I’ve found it’s easy to curl up in the fetal position when you get punched straight in the eyes.
But this is about you, my darling Busy Person, not me. You are too busy to think about this stuff right now, because there are many very important things happening. I understand. Can you please allow me a few minutes to describe what my clear, disabled vision shows that you are not noticing?
That thing you are worried about? It’ll be okay. Unless it involves a loved one and a hospital, it’s a minor inconvenience at worst. In 5 months you’ll barely think about it and in 5 years you’ll be hard pressed to remember what all the fuss was about. You are resilient and strong and this too shall pass.
Those things that are more pressing than your kids? They really aren’t. No, I really mean it. Put down your planner and your list and your phone and go lay on the floor and listen to what your children are babbling about. Yes, if you have to, you can schedule a daily “Lay on floor, listen to kids” appointment in your calendar. I totally get it.
But stop thinking that there will be a less-busy time when you can make those moments up, because there won’t be. They will never come again. The best you can hope for is to not miss out on the present and future moments. Be alert for memories in progress. Catch as catch can.
You need to go on a walk with your husband or your wife or your partner or your best friend. You need to do it today. Shoot for everyday. There may come a time when you cannot walk anymore and you will be so glad you took those walks when you did. There may come a time when you are 85 and everyone around you has given up on walking but you still can. Think of the Badass Old Person points you’ll win then!
Busy, my darling, I need to tell you this. It’s time to start thinking about the way you really want to spend the remaining hours of your life. Now, I don’t want that to sound depressing. That’s not what this is about at all, but time is a currency that doesn’t pay dividends. You spend your hour and it’s gone. Please spend your hours on things you love and cherish and value. Yes, I know you are too busy running all over and managing critical stuff to think about this Self Help crap right now. But that’s exactly why you need to do this. It can’t wait.
This may be the clearest thing I see from way over here. You are blessed with people who love you and care about you and will succor you when you need it. Know this. I mean, really, deep down, know how fortunate you are because you are not alone. You, who are always taking care of so many and so much – there are people out there who will become your Atlas should your knees buckle. All that you’ve given? People stand ready to give right back.
The world will not stop if you do. I know, my dear Busy, that it feels like you alone keep the wheels turning sometimes. But you can stop spinning and the wheel will keep coasting of its own momentum for awhile. There is no shame in just stopping. Take a vacation. You don’t have to go anywhere. Be in your space and in your head and see what Not Doing feels like for just a little bit. Nothing will collapse if you do.
I know it’s constant, this treadmill. I know, I feel it too. But will you try to see it the way I can, even without the advantage of my blurry, helpless double-vision? Will you take a deep breath with me, and just pause for a minute?
I know you can.2