Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Whole Lot of Something

I’m sure you’ve all used the expression, “a whole lot of nothing,” but have you ever thought about what you’re saying? Personally, I’ve always thought about it in terms of not getting much in return, or in terms of unfulfilled expectations, or, on a positive note, what to do on the perfect relaxation vacation! But today I began to think of it in a more substantive way.

My sister gave me a book for Christmas called Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much so that we could be “thinking about the same thing every day,” if only briefly. That way, when we talk on Tuesdays, we might bring up something that stood out during the week and we’d have a similar frame of reference as a starting point. (Not that we ever need help thinking of things to talk about, mind you!)

I thought it was a great idea, but I didn’t really believe that I was a woman who did “too much.” I knew that I tried to tick off several items on my daily list, but those were “normal” things that wives and mothers and teachers had to do every day for heaven’s sake!

It wasn’t until today (Jan. 30th) that I came across the meditation for Jan. 28th that got me a-groanin’. Right away that should sound suspicious. Yes, it’s true. I was several days behind and read all the missed days this morning to “catch up.” And what hit me first about that particular meditation was that it sounded like something my husband needed to hear, (which, btw, is always a big clue to me that I need to hear it three times as much as he does), so I set it out where he would see it, making sure the book mark was on that page, and, sure enough, he read it by the time I got back from my morning errands (I could tell because the book was flipped over). So, I picked it up and read it again…to gloat a little at how apropos it was for the man who hadn’t gotten to bed until 3:30am that morning because he lets his job rule his life…and that’s when it hit me!

The author, Anne Wilson Schaef, labeled the meditation with the words: "Expendable, Control, and Fear." She says that the fear of being expendable is what drives people to become workaholics—that in making themselves “indispensable,” they convince themselves that they are in control and cannot be “let go”; in a word, they are SAFE. In other words, a man, like my husband, might think, “If I do everything that is asked of me, and then some; and if I check and recheck everyone else’s work and pick up their slack so that everything is done just so, then it doesn’t matter how many hours it takes because ‘this is my job, after all,’ and I don’t want to LOSE it!” But Schaef says that people who are “truly passionate about their work” take the same approach to their other interests—time for “play” or even some good old alone time—whereas the workaholics “work out of fear and try to convince [themselves] that [they] love it.” She says that this kind of fear-motivated behavior is self-abuse and is common in the over-achiever types.

So I asked myself, “How does someone who doesn’t have a job and has commitment issues (me) fall into the ‘workaholic’ category? What do I do so much of anyway?” The answer skewered me to the spot immediately. I do A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING! I do so much nothing that I never get the great big SOMEthing(s) done! My ability to avoid and shirk and dance around big projects with little nuisance-y things has been what has kept me from balancing my life and my time. The little nothings of my average life have been consuming me and keeping me from getting ahead: in my career, in my writing, in my reading, even in my parenting…in everything I say I want to do with my life.

Now, I already knew that this was the do-or-die year for focusing on me and what I want and how to get it. I had my tag words “Discipline” and “Commitment” looming in front of me like my pillar of fire to lead me through the dark wilderness of my present existence into the milk and honey shores of my envisioned promised land. But I just didn’t see that there was “Nothing” standing in my way. All those obstacles I saw between me and what I want for me were just a mirage after all, only, I was creating all of them for myself. I thought that the journey had to be arduous and lengthy in order to be real, but here I was, presented with this “beam me up” reality. The life I want is just a moment away.

One decision is all it takes. Sure, I may have to make that decision repeatedly because it’s an idea that challenges my ingrained habits of perception, but it’s a decision that gets easier and easier to make. This is a profound realization for me because it has such metaphorical connotations in my mind. I’m trying to avoid talking “in circles,” but basically, the idea is that nothing and something are completely subject to our perception, and all that truly matters is that we choose to create the somethings that we want and not waste our time making somethings out of nothings.

For example, it is true that my family needs to eat and that I am the person who hunts and gathers (and cooks) in the family, so grocery shopping is, indeed, something that I must do; however, in light of the reading and writing that I want to do, it is much lower on the significance spectrum than I tend to make it out to be. So, if I don’t read or write on the day I go shopping because I’ve managed to expand that task to the point at which it interferes with my high priority tasks, then I am letting nothing become something and have nothing of substance to show for my dream pursuits.

(This made me think, Oh, the laundry needs to be changed out and I almost stood up! Like I said, I just had this Shazam! moment a couple of hours ago, so it may take more than a day for it to sink in!)

So in other words, if, at the end of the day, my goal is to have “something to show for” my dreams, then I must continually make decisions about what is “nothing” to me and what is “something” to me—or else change my dreams! I say that only because I’ve also learned that there are fantasy-type dreams and there are vision-type dreams. A fantasy for me would be that I would love to be an Olympic figure skater because when I watch them skate on TV, I just know that to feel that amount of power and grace would be fantastic, but I have to admit that figure skating is a sport for younger athletes who have trained copiously since childhood, and, realistically, this does not describe my situation—at least not in this lifetime! On the other hand, a vision for myself, me, in this reality, might include being a published writer. That isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination I don’t think.

But that’s part of what this year, especially, is all about for me: finding my vision. And that’s what this blog is here for—to chronicle the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the overs and unders of my journey to becoming what my friend, and author,
Allyn Evans means when she says “Queen.” I am learning to establish dominion over my own life and to fill it with fabulous somethings, all of my own divining. So…

I hereby crown myself a “Queen-in-Training” (QT) and banish the somethings that are actually nothing!

© Nicole J. Williams, 2007, all rights reserved.

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