>When my daughter, Alexis, was about three, she rode a variation of a merry-go-round. As she came towards where I was sitting, I would wave at her. “Are you going to wave every time?” my husband, Ralph, asked. “Yes,” I said and I did. There are many things I can’t do for my child, but I can always be her audience: watching for and acknowledging her accomplishments.
I’ve been thinking about my role as audience as I’ve been moving towards a smaller life. Since I last wrote, I’ve resigned from two volunteer activities. Both of them involved Saturday morning meetings. I take my Avonex shot on Friday nights, which means I often feel lousy on Saturdays. I don’t trust myself to drive when I feel weak and muzzy, so Ralph and Alexis have been driving me to the meetings. They’ve been gracious about the whole thing, but I’ve been longing for some slow-moving Saturdays.
The first time I worked through Step 3 of the Twelve Steps, I was in my mid-twenties and obsessed with “what God wants me to do with my life.” I hadn’t been in the program too much longer before I decided that God cares much more about who I am than what I do. I need a God who will nudge me away from my unhealthy attachment to accomplishment.
When I consider what I mean by “a smaller life,” my fear is that I will become a useless couch potato. What I’m trying to move away from is a level of activity that might work for some people, but has been leaving me exhausted, resentful (from whence I go easily to guilt-ridden) and frequently in tears. There has to be some middle ground.
It seems to me it’s about setting priorities. Googling “setting personal priorities” was dangerous because it led me to many goal-setting, success-oriented sites. Those easily suck me into heroic models that don’t fit my life.
So I return to the idea of myself as audience. Suppose I made it my mission to watch for and acknowledge the accomplishments of those around me? Rather than pretending I can give up my focus on Doing, it tweaks it a bit. I don’t have to give up my natural tendency to admire accomplishment, I just have to give myself permission not to be the doer. That sounds like it’s worth an experiment.
P.S. The insurance company has approved a wheelchair.