What do you need?
What do you need to do?
We are confronted with expectations, requirements, demands, and conflict every day. Every one of us.
Even opportunities. For example, Annika got a letter today with exciting news, she "is eligible" for the Denver Pageant! What a shame she went to college instead. And we're going to toss out the Capitol One credit card offer she got today too.
What do you need?
I stood in front of a room filled with Army chaplains once, high-ranking ones, no less, and asked them that question (to ponder internally) and they were so dumbfounded they sat stone-faced and then responded as if I'd asked them to take off all their clothes and dance.
What do you need? Most of us are conditioned to ignore the question. My spouse was trained to follow the "JOY" principle: Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. Well, you can only imagine how much time and energy Jesus can take, and then, there's others. Their needs are a bottomless pit. So he didn't get around to considering himself more than, oh, about once every decade or so. He, like too many of you, still spends a lot of time saying , "Uh, duh, I don't know," when asked the question.
What do you want? Even that is hard to answer. My favorite form of torturing my husband is to insist he decide where we're going for dinner. "What do you want?" It isn't easy to learn to listen to oneself, to listen hard and long and carefully enough to come to an answer.
Seriously, it is too easy to listen too hard to the external voices and implied expectations, requirements, demands, conflicts, and opportunities that show up in front of us every day. I'm sure you've heard the wisdom urging us to not let the urgent replace the essential.
So, what is essential?
I cancelled my therapy appointment today in order to stay home and watch the U.S. Open Men's Final between Nadal and Djokovic. And, in a funny twist, my therapist called me first to cancel and I know that, while she really may have needed to go home and give medicine to her pets, what she really needed and wanted to do was watch the match too.
Some things are essential. Even when they seem frivolous. Or outrageous. Or expensive, or stupid, or even mean. Yes, true. Sometimes work is not essential, even if it feels urgent.
What I will gain from this match today is essential affirmation of giving yourself heart and soul to what you really love. Affirmation of being "all in" and passionate, and, most of all, having belief in yourself.
It occurred to me the other day that I should have kept playing tennis longer. I wasn't bad. In fact, I was rather good. Surprise! Tennis was and still is such a head game, a game of confidence and will perhaps more than any other. I once beat myself in a match where I was up a set and four games, because I freaked out: "this girl is too good; I can't really beat her." And I didn't.
I could've used several more years working with a sports psychologist. Seriously. Belief in oneself. Confidence. Internalization of all those essential platitudes about being able to do what we set out to accomplish. "It's never too late..." I can't even think of them now.
If we focus on the urgent instead of the essential, we get caught up in pleasing others, following rules, doing the 'right' thing, and putting off what we really need. Need.
Joy is actually meant to be joy, not "JOY."
Watching tennis is one of the things that helps me get back in connection to the essentials. To be reminded that passion rules. Real passion.
There are times we can't afford, for any variety of reasons, to avoid the urgent. But, still, we need to find time, often, to step back and evaluate. What am I doing? What do I need? Where is the passion?
Another friend has been wrestling with these questions. In fact, several friends and acquaintances are struggling with these questions right now, starting with giving themselves permission to even ask. But they are leaning in close, leaning in close to listen to their heart, their instincts, their true voice, and making choices that feed their passion, not the merely urgent. Breathtaking choices. And life-giving ones.
Now, having made some essential decisions over the past several years and having had some made for me, due to illness, I am at a wonderful place where I can choose to give life to one of the passions I've had for years.
Did you know, there are 771 versions of white? Pick one.
Oxford white is the one we chose. Our family room is being transformed, finally, to indulge my schizophrenia (not actually) about loving the sea and loving mountains, at the same time. It is ironic, living in Colorado, that our home itself reflects the love Dave and I share for the Cape shores. There are lobster buoys leftover from treks along the beach, and even a lobster trap we got from a lobsterman who was about to burn it after its long and faithful career. It's not kitschy, just a definite turn in that direction. So "Nantucket white" is the order of the day. And we can pretend we're there as we sit among the rope and boats and buoys.
A small passion, not one of the bigger ones. But there's this song I like, "Vienna Waits for You," and every time I hear it, I hear my name.
What about you? What do you need?