Piddling through days requires conscious effort on my part. I frequently remind myself now that I don’t have to schedule every minute of every hour with crossing off an item from my “To Do” list. When I taught, there never seemed to be enough time for everything. I’d head into work extra early, crank up the music, and speed through my morning routine. During my conference periods, grading took priority if I didn’t have any parent conferences scheduled. If I managed to whittle down the pile by one or two classes, reading a book or visiting with another teacher became my reward. For eight years, I never returned straight home after work. Once my mother moved to San Antonio, my after school hours started at her apartment—in the early years we’d visit, later on I’d do her cooking and cleaning; and after she moved to assisted living, I helped her get ready for bed. The second phase of my day started once I finally arrived home. Evening chores demanded attention. I’d learned early on that I resented spending entire weekends doing house work, so I divvied chores onto different evenings.
Somewhere along the way, I learned how to move into warp drive whenever necessary. In the time it took David to do one chore, I’d run whither and thither accomplishing several things at once. Our joke became that I lived in “Fast Forward” mode while he enjoyed “Still Pause.” With retirement, I’ve found it difficult to move to a slower pace. I tumbled into bed the other morning at 3 AM, woke up the next morning and mentioned that I needed to start the wash. It took a moment for me to realize that I can actually put off doing the laundry for another day. I could blow it off for the entire week if I want!
Thinking back, I’ve realized that much of my life, I’ve pushed that “Fast Forward” button and zipped so quickly through events that I’ve almost missed them. I spent so much of my youth focusing on the next challenge, or the next expectation, that I rarely paused to enjoy living. My future focused goal setting propelled and compelled me to prepare for tomorrow without allowing me to savor today. My advice to the generation behind me? Don’t rush living. Learn to pause and appreciate success before rushing onto the next quest.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman