Today is a good day; there’s no time like the present.
I’m tempted to apologize for taking so long to write here, but the part of me that is patient and accepting says, “It takes as long as it takes.” I try to look at everything I do every day and see its contribution to my whole life experience, which is both unimportant to the scheme of existence and simultaneously the only thing we each have. Pema Chödrön says, “Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up,” and that is my only real goal every day.
But, in the process, I create other goals for myself that contribute to this. Many of them are about making life better or more enjoyable. At the same time, this morning I was finding myself grateful for the things that have made it harder (both my limitations and the consequences of choices I’ve made), that help me stave off complacency or taking things for granted.
One of my goals is to focus on a theme for each day of the week, both to remind myself of those things that I think deserve more of my attention, and to actively practice habits that do augment my life and others’ in some way.
Under my current schema (which may evolve over time), Saturday’s topic is family. Rather than try to start at the “right” point or go in the “right” order, I think the best option is to start now, and hereby absolve myself of any imagined “debt” of posts that may have accrued since my first one.
Furthermore, in choosing an audience to address, the only clear answer of whom to write to here is myself. I take inspiraton from Tim Urban’s suggestion, when envisioning his audience: “I picture a stadium full of me. I’m just writing the exact post that I would be thrilled to get.” (30:50) As I work to communicate the ideas I want to share here better in my own mind, hopefully they (and the visible process involved) will be helpful to others who are looking to answer similar questions in their lives.
What is family? This is not the simplest of questions. Family can certainly mean biological or adopted family members with whom you grew up. Ultimately, however, expanding our recognition of connection to all members of our species and, indeed, of our planet, would help us to grow our empathy and make stronger connections.
In the short term, I feel this day of the week is meant to encompass all those with whom a strong connection is shared, regardless of their genetic closeness. Over the last year, by embarking on a highly unconventional path and trying to explore new sides of myself and life, I’ve spent less time with almost all of the friends and direct family members I’ve gained over the years than I’d like.
My goal, going forward with this theme, is to try to rectify that. I want to express more appreciation for people who are important to me. In the long term, I would like to see a physical living community in which tribe-like connections can be fostered. For now, I’d like to build a family tree — if only a list at first — of people whom I need to connect with on a more frequent basis and make a concrete plan to share more of my life with them.
This week, I’ll make a list of some of the people I feel I’ve most neglected. I’ll put them on my calendar going forward and try to reach out to one person each day either by phone or by a backup method (email, or perhaps I’ll try snail mail) if I’m unable to reach them.
Saturday Suggestion: Put Your Family On Your Calendar
Give this suggestion a try. Make a list of the people you most feel you’d like to express more appreciation for in your life, the ones who are either family or of a close friend nature that they’d leave a gap in your life if something happened to them.
Look at your upcoming calendar and put each person’s name on their own day. As you look at your calendar each day, reach out to the person whose day it is, either by giving them a call or writing a message to tell them what they mean to you.