Sunday, April 19, 2015

Priorities. Or Lack of Well-Defined Priorities.

WARNING: This blog is basically a synopsis of my existential angst, an inability to come to terms with myself. 

I have always wanted to be a writer. 

Technically, I have always wanted to be a writer, a teacher, and an actor. There was also a brief period of time when I wanted to be president of the United States, but I think that was mostly because I was told that women can't be presidents, and I thought that limitation was stupid. I still do.  

But back to my real ambitions. After eliminating actor from the list, I was down to two things I really wanted to be: writer and teacher. My challenge has always been that I don't know which one of these ambitions to focus on. 

Honestly, these two life goals are so intermingled in my head that I have a hard time separating them. And these two goals are also linked to my insatiable desire to learn.  

Let me explain: I learn in order to open up new worlds, to understand these worlds, to make my life richer and more interesting and more meaningful. Writing helps me make sense of what I learn and then internalize. It also allows me to pass on all the amazing things I learn about the world. Writing is a way of learning and teaching at the same time.  

Teaching is a way of interacting with people on a more personal level. I meet the most amazing students, and I want to pass on the joy of learning to them. I teach to open up new worlds to my students, to explain these worlds, in order to make their lives richer and more interesting and more meaningful.  

I want to do both things, to write and to teach. But pretty much I'm just teaching. Teaching is also the way I make money, something that was never on my list of ambitions but which is pretty important. 

By the way, when I say I'm pretty much just teaching, I don't mean that teaching is not valuable or meaningful. I just mean that I'm not doing the other thing that is valuable and meaningful. At least to me. 

And there's my dilemma: I'm not sure how to do both things at the same time. 

Last fall I had lunch with my friend Sara Dunn and her adorable little girl Zoe. This was a period of time when I thought my life was settling down and I would have time to write again, a period of time before I took on some extra classes that sent my life spiraling back into the crazy zone. Sara is also a blogger, but she blogs more often than I do. 

Sara has a knack for posing questions that make me rethink my life. And this time was no exception. 

"Are you still blogging," she asked. She is very straightforward, and I like that. 

I wanted to say yes, I was just on a writing hiatus because of my schedule, but I didn't know how to answer her question because I wasn't sure how long this indefinite hiatus would last. 

"Well, sort of," I hedged. "I'm just really busy right now, and so I haven't had time to write." I couldn't actually remember my last post. And I was sad because I could remember how much I loved writing and sort of wondered if I would ever start writing again.  It's not like I'm getting any younger. 

Sara knows that I tend to overpack my schedule. At least I think she knows that. I'm not good at hiding my flaws.

"Oh," she responded. "It's just not a priority right now." She is very straightforward.

That stung. I wanted to say, "Yes, writing is a priority. I just don't currently have time." 
But that's sort of the meaning of a priority. It's important enough to make the time. 

I don't remember what I actually said after that, but I did make a note to talk about this conversation in a blog. And here I am. Talking about this conversation in a blog. At least six  months later.

And that brings me back to my dilemma, one I have been thinking about for some time. Do I want to be a writer or a teacher? Can I be both? Can I prioritize my life so that I have room for both in my schedule--and also make room for relationships and reading and exercise and cooking and cleaning and all the other things that make up a life worth living? 

And can I make room for listening to God? Making sure that my life and my schedule follow His plans and His mission and not the one that's so very fuzzy in my head? 

I think it comes down to priorities, something I have already established that I am not good at establishing. 


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