Kramer: Reading offers respite from daily grind
Where does the time go? It flies or it drags depending upon what I'm doing. When it's something I enjoy, it takes wing and the hours disappear in a blitz of satisfaction and pleasure. When it's dealing with something that hurts or a job I hate, it can drag on seemingly endlessly. Time is the coin of the realm in my life now, and I find myself trying to spend it wisely, in a balanced and productive way. That's why I did a mini-evaluation recently of how I'm using this precious commodity. The long list of household chores (many of which I share with my husband) and volunteer activities felt somewhat onerous when I listed them. Combined with the daily bout of gotta-get-dones, many things seem to be omnivorously eating my days. Recently I have felt the pressure to find a way to step out of this merry-go-round and find time for something else. That's when I realized that one doesn't "find" time. One has to "make" it. The responsibility is mine and mine alone.And so I have come up with an idea that I've been trying out. I call it "Rescue Reading." I am trying to set aside an inviolate hour a day just to read. I've always loved reading but have found over the past few years that I can't seem to find the time to do it much. So lately, I've been stopping sometime in the middle of the day and sitting down with a good book. All else just waits. The first time I did it, I was truly surprised at the result. It was noon. I left the dishes unwashed and the bed still not made, and sat down on the living room sofa with a book I've been trying to finish for months. After an hour or so, I put it aside and girded myself to resume the waiting tasks and commitments. It was immediately interesting to me that I felt somehow more energized than when I had sat down for this break. All the tasks I needed/wanted to complete were waiting patiently for me. But I came to them with a different outlook – no pressure to finish them so that I could finally relax and read. No resentment at having to spend time on self-imposed deadlines. And I realized that for much of my life, I have been working under the wrong mantra – no fun till the work is done. And so I have begun to work at making time for the fun things during the day, not saving them for the evenings when I might be exhausted or over-driven. When I was employed and owed my time to someone else, I couldn't make this choice very often. And once I retired, I unconsciously maintained the workplace ethic of "get-the-jobs-done first." No longer. Rescue reading has given me the courage to make different choices than I've been used to. I feel as if I have saved myself from drowning and have begun to swim. And it feels so good to go where this new understanding has taken me.
Judy Kramer can be reached by email at JudyandOz@tampabay.rr.com. She is author of the book "Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age."