Sometimes being adult isn’t all it”s cracked up to be. Depending on your actual job title or position you hold in your family, there is always something on the list to do and most likely someone to answer to that usually has different ideas about procedures and proper execution of items on your to do list. Stress ensues because you want to please the masses but remain true to your own ideals, implementation, or time tables for completion. There are looming deadlines, constant rushing from one place to another, screaming customers or crying babies in the background. Carpools are crammed into the front and back part of your day if you are a parent, kids have sports practices, piano recitals and birthday parties and you are their designated driver. If you are a business owner or employee, there are usually a million little bosses you answer to consisting of clients, immediate supervisors, government officials, or just good ole Uncle Sam.
The pressure to perform should be enough. The pressure to perform with success can be near deadly unless you allow yourself time here and there to regroup, revitalize and refresh. Many times this is shoved to the back burner because finances are not there for a vacation, time is not available, or work is so urgent that you cannot even think about taking time away. In my own life as a mom and eventual business owner, I worked long, tiring hours trying to make a living for my family. I knew if I didn’t work, the bills would not get paid, so it was difficult to justify taking time away for myself.
One weekend, several years ago, I got out my huge box of photos. I was looking for a particular work photo to use in an ad, and I started running across old high school pictures of friends and activities. I spent over two hours looking through the pictures, reliving those memories. There were photos of myself and my best friend, Melinda, hunched over her pool table in her basement where we spent many Saturdays. We always had a bevvy of boys there sharing root beer floats, chips and dip, and a friendly game of Around the World. Of course, even at 15, we both knew the halter tops and short shorts were the real draw.
I ran my finger over a photo of Al’s Golfhaven, where I received my first real kiss from a boy and smiled. We were surrounded by the sounds of screaming kids coming down the monstrous 3 story Sui-slide on burlap bags, the flying ping pong balls slammed into us by nearby players, and the drifting smells of popcorn, citronella candles, and sweaty pimple-faced kids….and it was just heavenly.
Other photos fell from the box in piles. There was the grassy knoll where we laid down panting after a fierce game of kick the can, a picture of myself and another friend sitting on the brick fence at the back of Graceland, feet dangling over and waiting for a glimpse of the King riding his horses. Pictures of my first day on my first job…a pony-tailed young girl behind the counter of Radefeld’s Bakery at age 15 looking very official in my pink smock and name tag. I could almost still smell the sweetness of that place when I held the picture in my hand and remembered how I washed sugar bits out of my hair every work day, and my tennis shoes stuck to every floor in the house if I wore them inside without wiping them down first. I ran across a photo of the old Katz Drugstore on the highway near my home…there was a soda fountain and I always sat on the same stool and sipped the flavor of the day, licking the froth from my lips as I chatted merrily with whomever my companion was for a sweet treat getaway that day. Then there were pictures of one of my great “loves” in high school, Alan…I was there in camo and boots, holding up the rabbit I had just learned to skin and dress. The things a woman in love will do for her man…
As I put away those photos, and pulled out the work ones I was looking for, I started thinking of those moments and began to realize it wasn’t so much the moments that made me smile, it was the time away from reality they represented that brought the real joy. Over the next several days, I determined to take mini-vacations, beginning immediately. I didn’t want to wait anymore to get enough money, or enough time to go away and get the refreshment I needed. I knew it would probably mean traveling alone, and being a social person I didn’t know how that would fit my personality. Up to that point I had never eaten alone, traveled alone, or tried an activity alone. But I found myself to be my greatest company and devoted friend. I was no longer afraid to disappear for a while, settle into me and what I needed, and enjoy life more in the process. I began to allow myself to be a kid again, throw off restraints, and redeem my time and my own life in the process. The life I lived became my “currency”….I didn’t have to have a lot of money or tangibles. I would join a group or activity and it would buy me the next experience in a way. I met people I would never have met sitting in front of a computer in a cold, dark little office. Consequently my life grew, and so did my work itself and my personal contacts.
I had been mistaken many years thinking if I didn’t work, if I “disappeared” from my responsibilities, then I would fail both at my work and my own life. In looking at the photos in the box, I knew a disappearing act was exactly what was needed. Today I take mini-vacations and gift myself with spans of quiet solitude. I can often be found reading my Kindle over a margarita in my favorite local Mexican hideout. You can find me at the lake nearby feeding the ducks and considering my next day trip. Visits to the mall and people-watching , or going to the park and swinging for a while is inked onto my calendar. My own deck has become a sweet retreat where I do my best mental manufacturing…researching places I want to go on my laptop, studying about things I want to do, foods I want to try, and odd and diverse cultures I want to learn about… and then I plan my next run in that direction and I don’t let lack of funds or time hamper my quest. There will always be time for work…there will not always be time for exciting experiences. Each of us has a magic wand over our own life. It is called choice, and all it takes is a little waving, a sprinkle of pixie dust and the magical word abracadabra….and your disappearing act becomes a place of your most memorable and cherished scenes.
So, what are you waiting for? Poof…