Human motivation. What a delicate, even fragile thing. We can all turn on a dime, can we not. Suppose we spent an entire lifetime just responding, to requests, prompts, instructions; would we come to the end of the day wondering why?
The growing-up Sundays in our house were always neatly set. By the end of the previous Sunday, we knew what we’d be doing Sunday coming. No point in planning, or leaving a moment to chance; Sunday was “the Lord’s Day”, and we’d be starting and ending the day “at meeting.”
Yea, verily; Worship, Sunday “school”, beef roast in the oven, the kitchen always a little sticky with humidity in a house built before central air…..a big, hot meal, maybe a book, a nap, and Gospel meeting by 7. No TV, because, well, there wasn’t one in our house ’til I was 17.
Saturdays, Fridays………everybody had their lives. And, everybody still does.
But, nowadays, it’s all about “options”. So many. Pick one. Or, pick two. Look at the clock. Can we get here, and then go over there before what is over there is already over?
We arrive. We do this, see that. We greet people, making hasty small talk because, well, there’s the other thing. Time to go. Time to arrive, and do it all again. It’s exhilarating. It’s a social life.
And, somebody said we need it.
As a very young child, I recall my older brother creating any number of events involving classmates and friends, both inside the house and out. Basketball in the driveway. Big band in the basement. There was always something to watch happening. And, I remember feeling like I should be there, so as not to “miss” anything. And, so I grew…..always needing to be included, so that, if something happened, I would get to be there. Clamoring, begging to be allowed to go, to see, to watch, to do.
But, there was also intense pleasure and satisfaction in solitude. Was this because everything else was always happening just beyond my reach? Yet, drawing pictures, or cutting out paper and textured objects and glueing them into things; singing, and listening to records; playing the piano……reading stories…..writing stories…..perhaps hours and hours would pass, and I would happily spend them. Nobody ever said: “Why don’t you go outside and find something to do?” Not to me.
The kids my own age seemed to be outside. They seemed to be about doing things with each other, like riding bikes or playing games with balls. I remember the way my summer clothes felt against my skin while I watched them doing these things. I remember going to the beach, and making things out of sand with my little brother while the other kids went in the water. Being asked to “come out and play” was rare; often, I just didn’t feel like it.
When Dad wasn’t working, he’d be in and out, running short errands, or just sitting. He loved to sit and watch. On the porch. On a bench. On the davenport. Sometimes he’d sing to himself, or play his harmonica and bones. Mom never sat, unless she was at the sewing machine, which was much of the time. She rarely went out, unless we needed groceries or it was Sunday.
Now, we do one of two things. We spend time getting ready, and then we go. We see everybody. It’s a throng. We wriggle in and out, feeling the energy created by so much life. We squeeze into a seat. We eat a really good meal. We look at things. We spend a bit of money on something attractive. We leave. Or, we stay right where we are, and wait until the little voice tells us what we want to do today.
I only speak for myself. But, my offering of this moment goes out to each and every one of you who, in the face of overwhelming options, might need a gentle nudge: do what you feel like doing today.
I wonder what would change about life if we all waited, a few minutes each day, to hear that little voice – before responding to all our options. I wonder if we might feel serenely peaceful in our own company. I wonder if we might spend an entire day just enjoying: our. selves.
© ruth a.scanzillo
all rights, you know the tune.