With everything ahead that I ought to do, I never seem to find time to do what I want to do. I like to perform a variety of jobs, and I have many interests. Those are things I genuinely derive pleasure from, and they give me a reason to get out of bed with enthusiasm each morning. Although I'm thankful I'm able to get out of bed each morning and my ought-to-dos are of what I believe is great value, I mainly do them because they will help others. Those "ought do" chores are probably what truly make the world go around.
They are duties like going to the funeral home to honor the deceased and their families, cooking when I'm not in the mood, driving children to various activities. It's a fine line between liking what you ought to do and what you want to do. That's because you actually like to complete the ought-to-dos, as well.
Some of my want-to-dos are activities like reading a book, walking by myself and having quiet time. Listening to good music is a favorite. I derive great pleasure even from working. The problem is that I must do my ought-to-do jobs before I can concentrate on the work-related ones I enjoy: The preparation I must give to my teaching religion at college and a local private school, seeing people for spiritual direction and writing are areas of which I am speaking. Those employments allow me to feel energized. They are activities I can own.
Nevertheless, I have to complete the ought-to-do jobs that are for other people first. That's indeed a privilege. I only hope that I can insert what I want to do after they are finished. Although I do tend to sometimes stress over the dilemma and it may seem like a strange scenario, in the end, God always gives me the time to do both.
People take vacations to wind down, get away from it all, have a good time, see different sights, visit loved ones, attend ceremonies and for various other reasons. I find when I take vacations, I am, as usual, obligated to prepare everything that I'm responsible for at home before departing. Then I always take more than I need. The wheel keeps turning. When I arrive back home I must unpack, read all the mail that's arrived while I've been gone and scan the newspapers. People must be called back and the children's schedules have to be checked. Remember, I need and like doing those chores, but they are ought-to-dos.
I recently returned from attending a family-related military ceremony held in another state. The trip was full of events and ended with a vacation to the New Orleans French Quarter and then to the beach. Going to the beach for a couple of days was for the benefit of the two children with us, and attendance at the ceremony was to support to the soldier. We felt good. It was a combination of doing what you ought to do, then what you want to do.
Naturally, when I arrived home, I immediately jumped back into my ought-to-dos. Now I'm depending on God to help me do what I want to do. Teaching in the fall, writing and spiritual direction. I'm sure God will.
"Lord, may I be wakeful at sunrise/To begin a new day for you:/Cheerful at sunset/For having done my work for you;/Thankful at noon rise and under star shine/For the beauty of your universe./And may I add all that is in me/To your great world." -- The Abbot of Greve
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.