Sunday, July 3, 2011

Joy and the Pitfalls of Chasing Pleasure

Summer, in addition to the heat and hot dogs brings with it the inevitability of an overflowing schedule. The last few years I spent 99% of my summers cooped up in an office building breathing in more than my fair share of recirculated air, leaving home as the sun rose and only occasionally clocking out in time to catch the last few hours before it fell in the sky. Summer is busy season for those publishing company employees who process orders and are front line in communicating with customers in the education field. School's out = book buying booms! This year however I don't have to turn down every event invitation extended my way in light of my 60 + hour a week schedule. Mandatory overtime.

I never realized just how quickly ones schedule can be filled up when someone else isn't deciding it for you... or rather, when you have the time but didn't ever learn to structure a manageable schedule for yourself. One that leaves even an ounce of breathing room.

A few short months ago I believe I was writing on my inability to leave the house more than once a week or so... now, in my house or not I can't seem to sit still for more than 15 minutes. Except when Gilmore Girls and coffee is involved of course... or Firefly and a glass of wine. I won't lie and say that either is an uncommon occurrence, but I will say that in some sense they don't count. Yes, I do relax here and again. But my mind doesn't shut off, wind-down, tune out or more importantly focus, restore or create.

I've been putting off writing, creating, reading, and honestly thinking lately until I just get this next thing done. Until just after this weekend jam packed with events. After I get this house furnished. After the room is painted and the pumpkins have been planted. Sure an ice cream trip to the Dairy Joy is a good quick fix when one is too physically tired to exert any of that mental energy that has been steadily accumulating over these past weeks... but long term it wont help. It won't cultivate a sense of awakeness of spirit. That feeling of really being here in the present. Of fully knowing where I am in a given moment and where I truly want to be, not just what I need to do. All it will really do is give me a sugar buzz and leave me feeling more hungry an hour later than I would have been without it.

I am often asked if I am enjoying being a stay at home mom. Specifically if I like being at home. If I like not working a job.

I do. I enjoy not having a boss write my schedule. But something tells me I'm not enjoying it as much as I should, as much as I thought I would. In this moment I realized why. It's because I am still not taking charge of my own calendar. I am letting it fill itself, I am expecting the lack of a boss to give me the feeling of freedom that I now estimate I will only be achieved by wielding that pen myself. Governing my own agenda. Being the director instead of just an actor in my own life.

Not having a boss is a pleasure. Holding the reigns and living day to day based on my priorities I suspect will bring what I'm really searching for, which is joy. Pleasure is fleeting, joy is enduring. Joy is purpose, and fulfillment of that purpose. Pleasure can be found here and there in laziness, or in business but it almost always is haphazard. It's the result of indulgence. Something which is gone in an instant and leaves in its wake guilt or longing. It is a novelty. Joy... joy requires a plan, and action upon that plan. It requires a destination, a dream, something essential to our very being.

And it requires work.

It requires that we are good. That we sacrifice for others, for our craft, for our priorities. It requires an investment in who we wish to become.

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