By Anna Bethea
UUCT Director of Religious Exploration
There are some weeks that go by in a blur and I don’t even know what happened. I know I was busy, and I think that my busy-ness benefitted others, but sometimes I find myself questioning even that.
We live in a world of urgency and reactivity. When our heads are constantly turned by the newest product, task, cause, project or newsfeed update, we don’t have the time to enjoy what’s right in front of us. But if we don’t engage with what our society, culture, or community think are of highest importance, we may miss out on something great, or an opportunity to connect with others along common interests.
And on top of balancing the demands of the world, we have the demands of our heart to grow into better human beings: to become better at handling arguments, to feel better about our in-laws, to pass on our best values to our children. Or how about to feel more compassionate, more available for those around us and be able to set better boundaries? And although we probably all acknowledge that these are important endeavors, they take a lot of time … time that’s often already taken up by everyday life. Certainly, we can’t be expected to handle all of this in just 168 hours per week.
So, the obvious solution is to set priorities so we can better know what it is that we want from the hours of our lives. But how do we do that? There’s still the competition between what we want, what we think we should want, and what the world wants from us. It takes time and insight, but many of our desires can boil down to something more basic when we really dig deep.
My solution is to find those things that give me the most joy and can also benefit those around me. That is, how can I cultivate the spaciousness in my life in which I feel peaceful, and can therefore pass that peace on to others? How can I find the time and presence of mind to appreciate the feel of the water on my skin while I wash the dishes, and savor the flavor of each apple I bite into? What do I have to do with my other so-called priorities to be able to return to what’s right in front of me?
I still struggle often to return to my “best week” mode, but the importance is that we continue returning. Spend your thoughtfulness and energy on those things that’ll bring you back to your true self and you are well on your way to having time for all of your heart’s true and most basic desires.