I have come to the conclusion that my life is too busy for scheduled moments of quiet contemplation. There are too many interruptions and unexpected events for me to succeed with a daily commitment of any kind. I do well to check email regularly. It didn’t used to be this way. I used to work 40 hours a week at a day job that was an hour away from my home. That meant roughly 11 hours a day, including lunches, was committed. I got two days a week off and spent them doing chores, shopping, and paying bills. I still managed to read, watch TV, socialize. I didn’t have a lot of free time, but I didn’t really notice for a long time. When I did notice, it was how much time I spent on the road, driving back and forth. I began to resent those two hours a day. I wanted to be able to spend them doing something else.
Then I “retired.” It wasn’t too bad at first. I was going to school and that meant everyone knew I still had job-like obligations. They didn’t expect me to be available 24/7. Whenever they saw me with books or on the computer, they assumed it was for school and accepted it as necessary. Then I graduated. It took a couple of months for everyone to realize I didn’t intend to get a “job.”
Once I was “officially” free of outside influences, they began to impinge on my time. It seems they don’t see why I can’t drop whatever I’m doing to help them out. Don’t misunderstand, I usually can and I’m usually willing to do so. It’s just that there’s no boundary. I’m always getting interrupted. Every interruption is a single drop, but all of them together form an overwhelming flood.
So, I’m putting people on notice. I am back in school. This semester, I will be taking one online class and one on campus. We’ll see how it goes. I now have “real” obligations, not just my own desire to write, not just posting to blogs, not just research for myself. I will have deadlines for papers, classes to attend, tests to study for and reading that must be done.
Maybe I will get fewer interruptions and I won’t be able to say, “Sure, I can do that,” every time someone asks. Maybe I’ll even find a couple of hours a week to do my own research and writing. Small stones to build a dam with so that I can stem the flood.