This is my mantra lately. I’m backing out of my ‘commitments’ to try to squeeze in some time just to think. The problem w/not working outside the home is that people assume you don’t work at all. They don’t see ‘everyday life’ as work. And maybe for others, it isn’t. But what I’m finding is that the way I do it? It is.

Part of it — for sure — is the whole ‘learning to be an elder’ thing. Learning what parts of what youngers ask of you is your rôle, is giving back. I have been blessed with so many generous elders & mentors, that I feel honour-bound to offer my own learning to those who feel it will help. But all of it takes time, which seems to compress — even though I’m no longer in an office.

For instance, I need order without to have order within. Which means if the house is in chaos, or even just messy, it makes me crazy. I want time for tea, and time to sit in the sun and time to remember my face, before I was born. Or so the Zen koan goes.

via google
via google

It’s not easy, as there are all kinds of demands that ought to be met. Ought: that word so often fatal to the inner life. I ought to call this person, ought to email this other person, ought to do what that person would like. And there are legitimate responsibilities, as well, like… Grocery shopping. Dry-cleaning. Laundry. Not to mention the occasional ‘should’: doc appointments, vet appointments. Pick up birdseed.

I’ve been calling foul on many of these plays lately. I’ve dropped the hourglass that is the sands of later life on the floor, and left the mess for another day. In other words? I’m learning to unwind. It’s late for me — I realise — but I’m not always a quick study. As the eldest child, I grew up ‘taking care of.’ Of my younger siblings, of the pets, of my room, later of the house, of my mother when she periodically had a meltdown. Counting suitcases when we  traveled half-way around the world. Researching a car for her and then going to the dealer to bargain for it. Figuring out her finances.

And despite the title for this post, it’s not really ‘self vs others’; it just feels that way sometimes. Because each of us wants to be there for the people we love — family, friends, colleagues. The environment, the world. But without time to nurture our own fragile selves, we aren’t worth much in the way of comfort. Sure, we can run an errand. But not with true grace (well, can’t!). We can ‘show up.’ And yet…


Showing up is hard, as well. Because who do you show up for? And here’s where I’m weighing in: show up for YOU, first. Show up for time alone, time spent feeding your inner artist. Or your inner yogi, or your inner whatever-it-is that comforts & contents you. Without a steady, balanced you, there’s no helping anyone else. A very long time ago, there was a song w/ a line I think is really all about Buddhism: if I love myself enough, loving you won’t be so rough.

Yup. That’s the truth of it all: show up for YOU. Love yourself enough to show up for all the important things. And the rest will follow. It may take some practice, but you can do this. Honest.

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