Thursday, August 16, 2007

Being Accountable

As I went to the local farmers’ market with two other recently retired women about my age this morning, we all confessed that the words that strike fear in our hearts these days are a casual question (usually from someone who is still working): What did you do today? Or perhaps: How do you spend your time these days?

We live in a society that prides itself on accomplishment. It is still not acceptable to smile and say: NOTHING.

In truth, most days I can come up with something, but by many people’s standards, it might be insignificant. How I wanted someone to ask me the day I made the tablecloth and napkins.

My friend Kris has developed a technique which seems to satisfy most people, whereby she says she is using her first year of retirement to try lots of things before picking anything in particular to pursue. I don’t know what happens in her second year.

In my case I usually say that I’m doing lots of music and starting a volunteer position in the fall. All true and that said, I can rest assured that I am acceptably occupying my time.

But you have to wonder what’s behind this need to accomplish something. Wouldn’t it be great if instead we were looked up to because we had finally learned how to release our stress and just breathe? Somehow I don’t think that day will come in my lifetime.

13 Comments:

Blogger bozoette said...

I'm looking forward to the day that I can answer that question with a big smile and "Not a damn thing. You?"

3:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Bozoette -- Now why didn't I think of that? It's so much easier than inventing things that sound good!

Welcome to my link list. It seems we are both on the same side of 50!

3:57 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Barbara, Next time somebody asks you what you did today, say "ABSOLUTELY NOTHING except breathe in God's pure air" ...

I've done this and the reactions are VERY interesting!

On a more serious level, you don't have to JUSTIFY your existence on this planet, to anyone.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rise -- How beautifully Irish! I just answered a concerned friend's e-mail message to say I am not all that worried but I get a little peeved at myself that I even give a damn when people ask. I think their motivation for asking is not to justify my existence, but rather because they are just a little worried that they might be bored in retirement. There are more times than before when I am doing nothing these days, but it doesn't feel like boredom.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I cannot imagine asking someone what they did. Most of the time, I can't even remember what I did and I'm always busy. I'd love to slow down a bit, to learn how to slow down a bit.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I would just say that I am enjoying life and being me.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- You seem to be managing a pretty busy schedule just fine so far. There may be a point in time when you want and need to slow down!

Richard -- Good advice!

10:13 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

I found you through another blog-- Writing Down the Words. I was struck by what you said in this post and by something along similar lines i wrote in a recent post on my blog.

Why do we find it so hard to just be, to just enjoy the moment? Is it the age factor?

10:40 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I think a good response would be, "I'm working on letting go of my need to respond in a way that suits you."

In other words, who cares what other people think? It's how you feel about your own path that matters.

Really!

8:13 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ruth -- Welcome to my world! I'm adding a link to your Blog because it looks like we have some similar "issues".

Our upbringing in this country for the most part does not prepare us for life in the present moment. We're taught to plan ahead and think of the future while we study past mistakes. Every now and then when I slip into a deep silent meditation, I realize just how wonderful the present moment is.

Reya -- I'm convinced that the people asking these questions mean well, so I don't really want to say something that makes them feel bad. But at the same time, when I tell the truth and say something truthful like "I'm learning to relax and it's hard for me", I get a weak smile of noncomprehension.

8:37 AM  
Blogger steve said...

my stock answer is "worked like a dummy"; where do you figure that puts you?

9:24 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- So if I didn't work, does this make me worse than a dummy? :)

10:20 AM  
Blogger meno said...

Two great minds with but a single thought!

Nothing!

7:55 PM  

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