I have a secret time of the week that is all my own. No one can touch it. No one can invade it. It is impossible to ruin. It is the very best part of the weeked for me. It is my own personal holiday in a busy life. This is the time right after I’ve dropped my bags by the door, kicked off the work shoes, hugged and kissed the little one and said “Good-bye, have fun and be safe!” to her for the every other weekend that she goes to be with her dad. It is the time right before I head out for evening festivities to blow off steam from a stressful week with other adults who’ve also had a stressful week and need some adult time as well. I might not even go out. I might stay in and simply revel in the silence (except for the stereo, always the stereo!) and enjoy the blissful solitude of not having to answer to anyone, of not having to be completely cheery,animated and confident when I really feel exhausted, frazzled, uncertain and unprepared. I don’t have to try to carry a conversation, diagnose a learning problem or strategize or organize anything. I don’t have the constant buzz of young voices in the background. I don’t have to be “on”. I don’t have to be anything. It is that time of the week that I do not have to do anything I do not want to do. I don’t have to show up…or I can. It is my choice.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of choice lately. We all want it. In the U.S., it is an inalienable right. Some enjoy it more than others. We have it and yet we don’t. We make choices and those choices completely remove certain other choices from our plate of options. Sometimes we make choices and the results of those choices take us down roads where we end up completely without any options whatsoever. Being without options is not necessarily a bad thing either, but mostly, being without options in many cases and for many people translates as “trapped”, “caught”, “stuck”. It can happen when choosing living arrangements, universities or vocational schools, relational partners, careers or geographical areas to settle in. The tough thing about choice is that you can’t always tell whether the choice you make today will end you up in your own personal prison years down the road.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself lately, and by lately I mean over the last couple of years, not just the last few weeks, is that more and more I want to create my own hoops to jump through. I’m less inclined to want to jump through someone else’s hoops. For example, when considering whether or not to return to grad school for that prized doctorate, I decided that I really just don’t want to go back to school (at least right now) in order to jump through someone else’s hoops to get a piece of paper that says I can now put a few additional letters behind my name. The degree wouldn’t necessarily give me many more options than I have now and it might even be one of those choices that lands me in the place where I feel very “trapped”, “caught”, “stuck”. I decided to wait on the PhD.
On the other hand, I enjoy jumping through certain hoops. My job for example is one area where I will jump through hoops. I do this because I like the reward of the paycheck every month for doing so and I also like this because right now the idea of jumping through my own hoops in a self-employed sort of way presents far too much choice for me and far too much instability. Choice, in that way, is not desirable to me.
Being trapped or caught or stuck by our choices can be an incredibly rewarding experience as in the context of relationship, for example. Consider that rare relationship where you and your partner fit so amazingly well together in more ways than just the physical. There is the right amount of closeness, intimacy and connection perfectly balanced with the exact amount of respect for each others’ differences and individual preferences and need for solitude or separateness. You can see doing life with this person and it is an exciting vision not an uncertain venture. In this case, the choice made leads to being limited in ways that are fulfilling and rewarding. The reality is, you are in a place that you are, to some degree, very limited in the range of certain kinds of choices you can make while certain other options have been completely eliminated. Being without options in this scenario is not necessarily a bad thing.
Choice. How to spend our money. How to spend our time. How to spend our lives. Choice.
Freedom. Freedom from having to make choices. Freedom to make choices. Freedom to freefall. Those are Friday afternoons for me.
Friday afternoon: those moments after the breakneck speed of a whirlwind week and right before the weekend is officially underway. The entire weekend stretches before me filled with free choice and choosing my own hoops to jump through in the order in which I choose to jump them. No schedules to keep except those I implement. No obligations to fulfill except ones I’ve chosen. On Friday afternoon the weekend looms large and I don’t have to commit to any of it just yet.
Choice and freedom.
To do…or not…as I choose.
This is my own personal Nirvana.