Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking Time for the People in Our Lives

A number of things today combined to make me think about the ways in which some of us postpone relationships and procrastinate about their upkeep.  And while a few of us actually seem to put acquiring relationships on our to-do lists ("Meet a man."  "Get married and have kids."), more of us seem to take for granted that relationships of all types will just happen along in due time.  And worse, that when they do, they will somehow take care of themselves, while we tend to more important things, like working on our tennis serve and making partner by age 30.  Like shining our sinks and picking out new couch pillows.  Like perfecting our apple pie crust and getting published.  Makes me think of a pot holder my dissertation chair gave me long ago--for some unknown reason, since I was already a mother--that featured a bluish cartoon graphic of a woman and the legend "Darn!  I forgot to have kids!"

Anyway, I don't as a rule put lunches with friends, walks with my sons, dates with my husband, or calls to my mom and my sisters on my lists of things to accomplish either.  I am just beginning to get beyond the view that such occurrences interrupt my productivity, that I am stealing the time they take from more pressing commitments--i.e., work.  And this from a woman who, not so terribly long ago, believed so strongly in the fleeting nature of childhood that I willingly, though not without unwanted constraints, walked away from work I loved and had invested heavily in.  But this same woman has been known to hide in my own house when a friend came by unannounced, so that I could continue checking off items on the day's agenda.  I am, in a word, torn when it comes to spontaneous socializing.

I have, however, taken to listing relationship "achievements" on my "done lists."  And while I still generally prefer to be able to plan these occasions, I am reminded today that the people who still want to hear from me and to spend time with me, despite years of my unavailability, are precious and deserving of the gift of my time and attention.  They are even worth blowing off the occasional meeting, or scheduled project.

And maybe, just maybe, I can get my husband to pencil me in for sometime next month.

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