Sunday Reflections: Live In This Moment
Everything you hear about seems to be able planning ahead. Focus on the future.
In work: plan ahead for the next summer reading after the current one just finished. Plan the next three months of programs as you just finished the current ones. Plan ahead for the next big program, the next big thing.
In life: plan ahead for your child’s education savings. Plan ahead for your retirement. Plan ahead for your funeral. Plan ahead, ahead, ahead.
Take care of your student loans and credit cards first, and save for retirement. Yet fridges blow up, ovens stop working, pipes freeze, the air conditioning goes out, and all the ‘extra’ money in your budget goes away, and there’s nothing but the basics left. If you’re lucky.
So you go without. No vacations, no eating out, no movies, just barebones. Save it back up, build it back up. It’s OK to wait to see family. It’s OK to wait to go on a vacation, to spend time outside of the house and work with those you love and those you care about. There will be time. . . .
I used to think that way. We bought an older house rather than buy or build new when we finally bought a house and moved from our nomadic apartment life. No problem, we thought. We can update as we need, put off vacations and save to replace things. And we did for a while. We bought a new fridge because the house didn’t come with one. We replaced the hood over the stove, and replaced the lights. We replaced the cooktop, and then the dishwasher. We painted some rooms, and waited on others.
We worked, and I put in over 80 hour weeks, and took a job that paid less than the job I had, because it was a great opportunity but had a sucky work schedule, because it was ideal for me. That Guy and I could meet for dinners, and weekend lunches, and we could just save up more somehow.
And we pushed off the dream vacations of London and Europe because there would be time.
And we pushed off visiting relatives in other parts of the country because there would be time.
And we pushed off visiting other parts of the country that weren’t connected to conferences because there were would be time.
Then life decided to intervene.
We (That Guy and I) lost a number of family members between us in the space of 18 months.
That Guy got diagnosed with a chronic illness that affects the way we live, the way we eat, and the way we travel. We lost contact with friends and family for a while as we adjusted to what he needed, and how he needed to live. We’re slowly getting back to knowing what our limits are, and learning to say NO adamantly when something will exceed those limits.
We lost my dad, my grandmother, and my uncle in the space of six months.
I’ve been diagnosed with some health things that I need to focus on.
And you know, the things that seem “important” to everyone else really don’t seem that way to us anymore.
It’s not important that I completely pay off my student loans within a year or so. They’ll get paid off eventually, and yes, they could get paid off faster if I focused all of my extra money on it. Instead, that extra money is going to pay for our tickets for a family cruise in October. It’s more important to me to have that family time with That Guy and my relatives.
Does that mean I’m going to go insane and run up credit cards and huge debt? No. Does that mean that instead of buying groceries I’m going to go to Disney? No.
But it means that I’m taking a different view of my life, and thinking: which is more important?
Is it more important to me to save to replace the stove that still works but has kinks or to save for a family cruise?
Is it more important to me right now to dust or to spend this hour holding That Guy while he sleeps?
Is it more important to me right now to finish off the book review that Karen’s been needing or read to the niece?
It’s a shift in viewpoint, and while it’s a subtle shift, it’s there.
I’m going to conferences, but I’m not going to every single session and running to every single thing. I’m taking my time and not wearing myself out. And if That Guy is with me, we’re going to pick something that WE want to do as well, like Crunch! An Evening with the Authors at the Texas Library Assocation conference in April- a night of probably weird food that he can’t eat, but listing to zombie authors like Jonathan Maberry talk about books. And in Las Vegas, we have a standing date with Tim Federle to go see a Cirque de Soleil show- his pick.
I still kick butt and do awesome things at work. I do cool programs, and have tweens begging to do homework so they can make rainbow loom bracelets on Thursdays. But I’m actively taking steps to change my schedule, because while working 3 nights a week was fun and exciting when I started, now That Guy’s schedule and mine aren’t compatible with his illness.
I need to start making things work for me. I don’t want to have any regrets, that I didn’t do this because I was saving for a new oven. That I didn’t do that because the extra $20 a paycheck went to retirement instead of seeing someone at Christmas.
That instead of taking the time to cuddle That Guy or color with a niece, I researched a project for work on my day off.
I don’t want to have any regrets. And I won’t, because I’m going to live in this moment.
Filed under: Sunday Reflections
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network