Enjoying the lulls in life is valuable
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Most people think they must always be accomplishing something. This tendency often originates in childhood.
Even if you can't remember what activities and interests you were involved in, it's likely that you attempt to teach your children so they'll grow up fitting into the particular norms and images you envision. You want to be a good parent, so you burden yourself with massive lists of should-dos for your offspring -- cafeteria style, a little of this, a little of that. Your young ones must excel in school, sports and dancing, and the list goes on. But when are they allowed to relax and be creative kids? When is their lull?
You even feel guilty if you relax much. "There's so many things I need to learn," you think, "like mastering the iPhone, taking a class or volunteering somewhere -- anywhere."
There are so many choices we often overdo. While attending a youth baseball game recently, I viewed the spectators. Many were reading or fiddling with cellphones, rarely watching the game. People felt they couldn't waste time. Was it a waste? Numerous activities are good if we don't overdo trying to meet our own expectations.
Not long ago I spoke with a manager in a restaurant. Linda seemed to always keep busy, either with work, family affairs or by involving herself in community events. She looked frazzled that day, so as I filled my plate at the food bar, I asked her if anything exciting was going on in her life. "No," she said, "But I don't really care. I'm just enjoying the lull." That sounds like an ordinary statement, but was it really?
What do you do when you're experiencing a slow time in your life? Do you feel like the lull is discarded time and you ought to fill it, or do you become apprehensive because you aren't running here and there? You dare not waste time and enjoy the free time you now have?
The woman went on to say that she'd been so occupied that she welcomed this change -- the time when she could be doing little. "I'm actually enjoying it," she said. "I'm one who feels they must constantly be producing or performing a task." I agreed that I, too, was guilty of that same attitude sometimes.
When God made the world Scripture says that on the seventh day, he rested. It was the Sabbath. The Sabbath was meant to give people time to worship and wind down. It was a time to meditate, be with family and put your thoughts and attention on the genuinely important issues in life. Work and activities, for sure, serve an important purpose but we need balance. Too much of anything is too much. We must take time to look within ourselves rather than judging our life and successes on outside appearances.
Stephen B. Leacock said, "Life, we learn too late, is in the living, the tissue of every day and hour." Take time to enjoy your lull. It's given to you for a reason. You might try to find out why it's there!
If you look at animals, the trees and the workplace, you see there is always a time when movement slows down. Animals sleep, and trees shed their leaves and relax while they wait for their new foliage. Stores and organizations slow down after their busy times. There they revamp, rest and prepare for another season, and some vacation.
George Eliot tells us, "The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us and we only know them when they are gone." Josiah Holland said, "The person who does not know how to live while they are making a living is a poorer person after their wealth is won than when they started."
Enjoy your lull, it's valuable!
Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.