I’ve long dreaded being asked what my hobbies are, because, quite frankly, I’ve never had any. Up until recently, the only possible responses to the question I could have honestly given were watching tv, reading, and maybe running, if that were a thing I was actually doing. To excuse my lack of extracurriculars, I would use America’s favorite buzzword (phrase?) — I’m just so busy.
Don’t you hate it when people tell you how busy they are? It’s like, “No kidding! I’ve never met anyone with that particular problem before!” We are all busy. Of course, this phenomenon occurs to varying degrees, but vying for the title of ‘most busy person’ simply isn’t a contest I want to participate in.
I came to the conclusion that instead of lamenting to every curious inquisitor about how very booked my schedule was, maybe it was wiser (and more genuine) to say this instead: “These are what my priorities are, and aren’t.” Because isn’t that the truth? I know many people with what I would consider fully-booked schedules (and often children or other people they care for on top) who make time to train for a marathon, participate in a book club, or host a weekly dinner with friends. This assertion does not encompass all situations, but I think the argument can be made that what many of us do or don’t get done is more related to our priorities than to busyness. It is certainly the case in my own life.
A few years ago, I came upon this quote by Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And I thought, well shoot! When you put it that way….. A professor of English and an author, she made this statement in reference to writing, but I think it applies broadly and generally to the whole of life. With this new and empowering/frightening information in hand, I was moved to take a look at my priorities. Did I want to spend my life tired and stressed and finishing a long day by binging on Grey’s Anatomy, a not even good show? No. I did not. To be clear, this is not a rant advocating that people don’t watch tv. If that feels enjoyable and empowering to you and is how you want to spend your life, please watch tv. That is 100% what you should do. For me, it has become a thing that absorbs precious hours that I’d prefer to use differently and I usually walk away from the activity feeling regretful and unmotivated. It is not how I personally want to spend my life. I no longer want it to be a priority.
While visiting family for Christmas, I stumbled upon an ad in my hometown newspaper about a beekeeping class that was to take place nearby in February. It was a day-long seminar (nine hours in total) and as soon as I saw the ad, I knew I had to do it. That was absolutely how I wanted to spend my life. It will be at least another year before I set up a hive, but it has been so fun having a new project to research and be excited about.
In addition to my new interest in beekeeping, I’m also taking a pottery class, writing this blog, and working on a number of other projects that are just about me and not related to monetary gain in any way. Notice that all of these activities require my thought, creativity and energy. It is logical to assume that tasks of this nature would leave a person feeling more tired and less energetic after the aforementioned long day which might have previously ended in a Grey’s Anatomy-induced stupor. However, I can attest to the fact that these activities have had the exact opposite effect; I feel more focused, more in tune to myself, more alive. Holy moly has this been liberating.
So, here’s to taking a hard look at our priorities and to remembering that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Spend wisely.