October 17, 2009

Being, doing, going.

My daughter is in the process of being laid off her job of fourteen years. She's in her late 30s, has a successful husband, and their family can survive well without her income. She's in transition, making a big change, and thinking about what to do next with her time. She's busy, has a nice circle of friends, and the children are doing well in school, so there's no issues creating drama that would prevent her moving on to whatever she wants to do. But what should she do?

Life really is a series of changes and transitions. Just growing older each year and seeing the world from a the changing perspective of our increasing age is change. Some of us marry and some of us divorce, we change jobs, we move, and we make new friends or lose old ones. Our jobs change, our careers shift, and we are constantly affected by what we see and hear about what's happening in the world. We get sick and we get well. We watch our friends' lives change, we have children or grandchildren, prices go up and our income buys less, and life is never quite the same from one day to the next. Even if our routine stays the same, we as people, we as individuals, are constantly changing.

And for me? We took on a new doc in the office three years ago, everything shifted, and I'm still reeling from what those changes caused. I stopped having singles parties and I stopped dating. I made a few new friends and a few others moved on. I'm still a mother and a grandmother, but those I love are constantly changing and growing, so that affects me, too.

The issue is still always "what should I be doing?" Should I date again? Should I go back to school? Should I do volunteer work? Should I take different exercise classes? I've spent the past year or so kinda sliding along, learning to cope with my job, enjoying my time at home, having occasional dinner and movies nights with my women friends, spending time with my grandchildren, taking a few trips, and yet I still ask myself if I should be doing something else, something more.

I have encouraged my daughter to think less, to just enjoy the extra time and space in her life now that she is not working. I want her to just "be." To hold still, breathe deeply, and really go-with-the-flow. Let the world move her to and fro a little. Let life surprise her with what comes to her without her having to figure it out. Allow each day to unfold easily. Be available to whatever comes next.

Even as I suggest she just let go, let things happen, I sometimes think I "should" be doing more, seeing more people, going to more events, being more busy. But, after a lifetime of being a single parent, going to college and working full time as an adult, keeping my own house, being a grandparent, tending to an ailing parent, being very-very-very busy for many, many years, I am having a hard time just sitting still and allowing myself to do nothing. To watch TV. To take walks. To sit outside and feel the sun on my skin. To read novels. To just be and do whatever or do nothing and feel like that's enough. What is it that makes us feel like there's some scale somewhere that we must measure ourselves against to prove that we're productive enough, that we're participating enough in life? Who judges this?

So, for now, I'm going to take my advice for my daughter and give it to myself. That, outside of meeting our personal needs, there's no standard to follow, no yardstick to tell us we're doing enough or being social enough or having enough nights out. It's OK to do nothing. It's OK to coast. It's OK to just....be.

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