Sharon’s Sabbatical Reflections September 17, 2014

How much does one have to do in order for it to be a good day?  When I think of my ‘normal’ life, fulfillment comes from maximizing the number of accomplishments in any 24-hour period.  From the alarm going off in the morning until the book is closed and the light turned off at night, I am in perpetual motion and thought.  I’m not even going to venture a comment on multi-tasking.  At the most basic level a good day, for me as for many of you, is a matter of filling up the minutes and hours with completed tasks.  This has served me quite well in life.  I managed work, family, and a home with the precision of a Swiss watch.  I remember how excited I was upon moving into Niakwa Place to discover that the nearest Safeway remained open until 11 pm which meant I could shop for groceries after evening meetings at the church!!!  Ah, the things that can bring us joy!Today I was sitting on a train assessing the day and came to the realization that I had only done two things.  My immediate reaction was to feel a combination of shame and panic.  How could I waste such special time?  I risk missing so much by not moving faster, not cramming more into each day.  Or do I?  Does a longer list of things done or seen make for a better day?  I used to think so.  It’s the small, persistent voice that speaks in the back of my mind always.  My children tease me now about the military precision with which vacations were ‘enjoyed’!  One of the annoying features of modern travel is that almost everyone has a smart phone or tablet.  You can walk through the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the National Gallery or wherever and everywhere you look people are taking pictures.  There are even contraptions to hold your iphone so that you can take selfies with famous things in the background.  Sadly, no-one seems to be pausing to just look at the beauty and grandeur that is right in front of them.  It’s like time is measured by the number of photos taken or steps recorded on a pedometer.    Sometimes I feel guilty because I take so few pictures but I try to actually look and absorb the things in front of me.   The most powerful experiences we have of place is not simply visual, they are visceral.  You can think back to the scene and remember how it made you ‘feel’.So, as I wrestle with the guilt of not filling every second with activity….of not moving fast enough to see more places in a single day, I can recall moments of joy and awe that I will always associate with the places I did get to.  The special joy of experiencing a city through someone else’s interest which opens up entirely new vistas in an old familiar place.What makes a good day?  It likely won’t be defined by a checklist or a USB stick full of photos.  No, I think a good day is when you opt out of the race and let curiosity guide you.  When you see things that are interesting and fun and unusual.  A good day is discovering something magnificent or beautiful or peaceful.  A good day is unhurried yet full of surprises.  So, I’m learning life lessons that will carry me into the future.  Filling the day is not the same as a ‘full’ day—a day that breeds happiness and contentment and gratitude.  So, I’m going to be mindful of the difference and try to embody it in the days ahead.Sharon

Categories: General News, Sharon
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