Lately I haven’t had much going on in my life outside of work-in the past I have kept myself busy with various activities (volunteering, half-heartedly working on a master’s degree, among other things). But now I’m not doing any of these things. I’ve also let go of some friendships, because it was time to do so.
I’ve been reflecting on these various activities and relationships and also my feeling that I should find some kind of activity to fill my time because…I would meet new people, maybe make a new friend…good people volunteer, I should give back…I should earn a master’s degree because it’s a “wise” career move…I have time, I should fill it…but to be honest there is nothing that really speaks to me at this moment.
And it got me thinking. Although most of these “outside of work” activities that I did in the past I enjoyed, I can’t say that I loved them all. Sometimes I did them because other people were urging me to, or I thought other people expected me to do these things. Also, once I made a commitment to some of these activities, I had a hard time ending my involvement once it was no longer working for me.
In short, most of these activities weren’t making me happy, or they did initially, but I kept at them even if my schedule changed or I lost interest.
Why, why, why? It was like I was trying to force myself into becoming someone I thought I should be or someone other people wanted me to be.
I’ve decided to embrace activities that bring me happiness. Just hang out with my friends, take long walks, read, spend time recognizing what brings me happiness.
As these thoughts were taking shape, I re-read Eat, Pray Love. When I initially read it, I had some of the same criticisms that others had of this book-the author was extremely privileged-how many people can take a year off from their life to sort themselves out in Italy, India, and Indonesia?
I decided to re-read it mainly because I liked the vicariousness of it-what would it be like if I could do what she did, which I suppose is the main attraction of the book.
This time around I came away with some insights, primarily an episode at the ashram in India, where the author decides that she is too talkative, and that it is impeding her spiritual development. She decides to take a vow of silence for a month or so, and she hopes to be seen by others as a silent, ethereal, gliding presence. As soon as she makes this decision, she is notified that her ashram chore assignment has been changed from scrubbing floors to being a hostess to people who are coming to the ashram for week-long silent retreats. It’s a positions that requires her to talk, to be chatty, to be outgoing as she assists these people. She is the only person at the ashram these people are allowed to speak to. At the end of the retreats, various participants remark on her “silent, ethereal, gliding” presence. By embracing her chattiness, by embracing who she is, she finally achieves what she had been striving for.
I want to embrace myself, whatever it is that makes me me.