I am supposed to be camping right now. Have had a women’s campout on my calendar for months. Planned for it, looked forward to it. Then earlier this week my friend Steven said he’d be in from LA and the one night he had free was Friday – could I (and two other friends) meet him for dinner? But of course!
Thursday I got a new job. It doesn’t start for a week, but honestly I thought I’d have a bit more time off between gigs. VERY grateful for the new job, but the one week off seems so short and so much to do.
Many of the folks who usually go camping aren’t. I was feeling especially bereft that my friend Claire, a fellow writer and someone who is very physically active wasn’t going. While other people sit around all afternoon Claire and I typically get in at least one, often two hikes.
Then it started raining.
I’m finding that I want RIGHT NOW is some quiet time. I want to clean my house, do my laundry, write, meditate, just BE in this day as I sit between the recent past (my 2+ years as a contractor at Kraft) and the very-soon-here-future.
There was a time in my life when I would have dutifully run around frenetically pulling together camping equipment, rushing to drive up to the campground, putting my tent up and then sitting around in the rain under a tarp. Why? Because I had said I’d be there. And because – for whatever reason – I consider myself macha/tough/stoic. Good Norwegian? maybe. Mars conjunct the Sun? Perhaps. Bossy big sister? But of course.
But now I know that while it’s important to honor obligations in which I am needed, I can be flexible with things that are open invitations. And while it’s important to be tough when it counts (I’m a big fan of “stand and deliver” in terms of being strong enough to withstand life’s vicissitudes when needed) it’s dumb to do things that don’t make sense just to be tough.
I was laughing with my Dad the other day – we were talking about golf (his passion) and the apparel on the professional tours. Dad told me that the golf superstars only wear long pants in tournaments but when they practice they wear shorts. Which led to him saying he wears shorts in the summer when he plays golf. I told him that I didn’t wear shorts til I was over 50 – because when we were kids my brother and I observed that Dad didn’t wear shorts so we came up with a rule that “tough guys don’t wear shorts.” Between Chicago’s summers and menopause I decided being tough wasn’t so important.
So while it took me decades to figure out the shorts thing, it didn’t take much time this morning to switch gears and plan to go hang out with my pals at the campground this afternoon after the rain passes. And to give myself the gift this morning of unstructured “what do I WANT to do” time.
So do you let yourself be a willow? Sticking to the oak side? Or are you a wee little forest of some willows, some oaks and some beautiful maples? Standing strong, being flexible, just focusing on beauty. It’s all good!