I have a great friend who recently retired and while messaging she mentioned she’s struggling with commitments. She said, “I can’t seem to make them. When asked to join bible study, weekly classes, or take on a part time job I just can’t do it. Perhaps it’s because I was so committed to my job (for over thirty years). I love grabbing life at the moment and shaking it for all its worth.”
The following is my personal response to my dear friend.
(Name changed to protect this rock star’s identity)
Let me be the first to tell you there’s nothing wrong with you! You just finished a long and rewarding career that anyone should be proud of. You have given of yourself for the betterment of others. People looked to you to get the job done because you were reliable. But more than that–you cared. You cared deeply for the people you worked with. They looked up to you–as they wisely should have–because they knew you would be there to take care of them.
Maybe some of these people took you for granted but they’re getting a clear dose of reality now that you’re gone. I know I speak for many people when I say you are truly missed!! Your presence is one that cannot be denied. When you walk into the room, you bring a zest for life and a deep knowing. Your presence is truly undeniable!
So now that I have reminded you of what you already know about yourself, I would like to touch on the commitments you referred to. There are several good things you mentioned that you could commit to; bible study, weekly classes, or part time job. All are very good things you could add to your life and they may even add some enrichment.
But the question I have is where does the urge to completely fill our calendars come from? Why are we so inclined to feel like we need to be doing something all the time?
I am no expert on such things. I will, however, attempt to shine light on our humanness and will try to answer the question of what you should do with your time.
Life gives us an infinite amount of choices from which we can choose. Is there any choice we can make that is wrong? Let’s look at nature and see: take for instance the wave crashing onto the beach. Do we look at the wave and say “You’re doing it all wrong! That was a terrible choice for a wave to make!” Or how about the clouds? Have you ever seen a cloud in the sky that was grossly in error for its choice of shape? What about the banana or apple? Do we scold them for their poor choices of becoming bananas and apples? Have you ever looked at your newborn grand-baby and been disgusted by their choice of eye color?
I realize I am making some large exaggerations but for very good reason. Your life will unfold in perfect timing and with such crystal clear purpose as soon as you realize one thing: What you are doing this very second is what you are supposed to be doing. In a world of infinite possibilities, whatever you choose to do needs to be with this attitude; “I’m going to try this for awhile.” Then, upon making that choice to have that experience you may decide instantly that you want to have another experience. That’s perfectly acceptable! Do we criticize the cloud for joining another cloud and giving us rain? Do we fault the grape for being the wrong variety to mix into our Cabernet Sauvignon?
I believe you answered your own question to me without even realizing it. You said you want to “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth,” which I wholeheartedly applaud! To me, it seems you don’t want to join a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job. That’s perfect, don’t! In a world of infinite possibilities, what do you want to do? Do you want to go fishing, play with your grand-baby, share a bottle of wine with a friend, or drive your dad around in your fancy new car? There is literally no wrong choice you can make. Which brings me to another question:
Are there people in your life that suggest you need to be in a bible study, weekly class, or take on a part time job? If so, are these well-meaning people a source of guilt for you? Remember, no one can make you feel guilty without your permission. You no longer have to explain yourself to anyone since only you can experience life for you. Your well-meaning friends and family can’t experience the life you choose anymore than you can experience the life of a racoon.
I came across a quote earlier that reminded me of your situation: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” So I must ask you; what sets your soul on fire? If you’re worried about making commitments then only make one and let everyone know what it is. Commit to making the best choice for yourself in every situation. Some weeks that may involve a bible study or a weekend retreat but you will unapologetically commit to living your life one day at a time, moment by moment.
One of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts, once said, “Paradoxical as it may seem, the purposeful life has no content, no point. It hurries on and on, and misses everything. Not hurrying, the purposeless life misses nothing, for it is only when there is no goal and no rush that the human senses are fully open to receive the world.”
So we are given this life of infinite possibilities and we stress about what we should do with it. What if the answer can never be found in the “doing?” What if the only real answer is in the “being?” We are called a human being not a human doing, but somewhere along the way we forget that.
As we go through school growing up we are told the world is a certain way, so we believe it. We are told we are supposed to either go to college or get a job, so we believe it. We are told we need to buy a house and save for the future, so we believe it. We are told we need to get married and have a family, so we believe it. We are always striving for the next thing we are supposed to be doing, all the while, forgetting the importance of being in the present moment.
What if we’ve been lied to? What if being nothing more than a cog in the giant economical wheel is not what our souls yearn for? What if your worth has nothing to do with the choices you’ve made but instead has everything to do with the person you are? And in your case, you’re a pretty amazing person!
Here’s my final plea for you, my friend; ruthlessly and unapologetically commit to only what makes your heart explode with joy. Life is short and none of us are getting out alive, but oh how beautiful living can be while we’re here! The world needs more people like you who “grab life by the moment and shake it for all its worth” so please don’t stop being you!
In a world of infinite possibilities, I suggest you be your bad-ass self every single day, for your sake, for the world’s sake!
Peace my Friend!!