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Things To Do June 17, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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I’ve got a “to do” list that’s longer than my arm. It’s also longer than daylight. And I have a “fix it” pile. The pile is bigger than my finances can support. I crave Friday night because it is when I can rest and have a little “leisure” time. I can do what I want. I can work on my “to do” list of home type chores that have been put off during the work week. The “fix it” pile is going to have to wait until the finances come into line. And then, it comes to which thing comes first. It’s been good to have extra hours to work, but I’m out of the house from dark to after dark most weekdays.

I’m learning some things.

I’m learning about prioritizing, about budgeting the time to get the things I need to do, done. And that includes rest, because otherwise I’m going to break.

I’m learning how much I miss my family, and I hope they’re learning to miss me. They’ve been enjoying a summer break from school. The kids go to school, Mrs. currently works as a substitute teacher, so they’re all off for the summer. We see each other on the weekends, which really puts a spin on what’s important and needs to be done vs. what can wait because I want to spend good time with the family when I can.

I’m learning how much I delight in helping out where I am allowed at church. I get to teach sometimes, and whenever the kids “get it,” I’m really happy. It fills a spot in my soul somehow. I get to play my viola in the praise band. We have a violinist or two and a cellist or two. The adult violinist came a time or two and I miss her. The teen violinist is a regular and shes pretty good. And one other violist, but she’s away pursuing other important things. When I play, my viola feels natural, like true love. Maybe you’ve seen the post where people describe true love and the end of it says “it’s like coming home.”

My family feels the same way. Just right. Natural. When the kids are off to see their cousins up north, when Mrs. takes them to visit her family, it feels like part of me is missing. It’s not exactly like missing an arm or a leg, it’s more like a sort of nagging awareness of an emptiness in the soul, that I want to feel full again. The longer they’re gone, the worse it feels.

During the time in my life when I was running full-tilt toward starting a family and finding a career and not figuring out the priorities correctly, I had set my viola in a corner and not played. It was after graduating from High School, and I really didn’t have a venue or a reason, so I let it go. I wasn’t really aware of the emptiness for a while. I filled the hole with listening to music other people made, not realizing that’s not as fulfilling to me as making my own music. And in the current analysis, I never really figured out the right family or career priorities anyway. A little more wisdom would have served me well during those foolish years.

I also used to love to read. In stressful seasons I would stop reading, mostly because I had to read for school, and the stress of have to replaced the joy and the sense of leisure. There was not enough margin in my life to allow me to feel the freedom to read. About 3 weeks into summer vacation, I’d start feeling the margin time, and I’d go to the library and read stuff I wanted to read. I have books at the house too. They’re on my list of want to. But it’s a stressful season with tight and fraying margins, and I can’t, yet. I long for it, I am aware of the hole in my soul that’s not being filled by reading books, but I can’t. I can read people’s blogs, I can read the news and commentary to a point, but that’s all. I reach a point of stress and I can’t read any more. I don’t have the feeling of freedom to go to the novel realms and escape. I can’t “come home,” because there’s too much work to do.

Recently, that is to say in the last 12 years, I have realized that I have novel-sized plots in my head that I should write down. I have outlines, I have fits and starts, but I don’t have the margin time to write and really work in earnest about that. And I haven’t reached the finish line for any of it. I started writing blogs because I can cram it in the margins at work when I’m on a break or at lunch, and it’s a way of relieving the stress of not having margin anywhere else. If I don’t finish, I can save a draft and come back to it when I have a little margin and down-time.

I wish I could come home to some of these things, more than just on the weekends, more than just in the cramped margins. I want blank pages. I want blank pages to have room to breathe and to live and to feel “home.” Those pieces of life that I crave, that I used to enjoy when life wasn’t as stressful, nag at my soul with a quiet urgency. And I’m helpless to make amends with those parts of myself because there isn’t sufficient time to devote to them. I’m aware that I want my family, my church, my music and my books to be a bigger part of my life, but I can’t. I can’t escape for now, because the urgent is more important and it’s got me trapped in the cage, chained to my stress and my work and when I can get to them, my list and my pile, which only add to my stress and my work. Until those are under better control, there is little relief.

The other thing I am aware of is conflict. Whenever there’s something wrong with a relationship, I can feel it like this: I can come home and not feel at home because it doesn’t feel right. That stress keeps me from really coming home. And I need to come home, because we all need a place we call home.

Music gives me a feeling of margin. If there wasn’t so much catching up on chores to do on the weekends, I might even leave church after playing in the worship band, and read a book. Alas, my margins are crammed with notes that aren’t musical. Do this. Do that. Urgent. Now. Right Now. When last I prayed for margin, I watched a few more things fall on to the “fix it”pile and got a second job. I find myself even farther away from the things I want the margin to pursue to satisfy my soul.

What is the hole in your soul, the missing piece in your life that you wish you could come home to? What chains keep you away? How can you escape to “home?”

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