Discovering What You'd Like to Do, If You Ever Had the Time

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
--Henry Miller

In the beginning spending regular time alone just to collect your thoughts will seem like indulgence enough. Spending time alone to nurture your authentic vision, to express yourself creatively, to enjoy a personal pursuit that brings you contentment and pleasure will seem - well, impossible. Incredulous. Impractical. Inconceivable. Out of the question.

"Right. In another life," is the usual response, along with audible sighs and the rolling of eyes when I broach the subject in my workshops. The wistful looks appear. "You mean to have fun?" the women want to know.

"Yes. Have fun."

"You mean, by myself?"

"Yes, by yourself. Fun. What would you like to do if you ever had the time?"


You can see where this leads. Most women I meet have a hard time holding up their end of the conversation when fun is the topic. Let the discourse be on diaper rash or Einstein's Theory of Relativity and we can hold our own. But fun for its own sake? The plain truth is that somewhere between family and careers during the last twenty years, most of us have misplaced an essential part of ourselves. Once we begin to embark on solitary sojourns to get reacquainted with our authentic selves, we usually discover that something is missing.

It's called zest. Exuberance. Joi de vivre, as the French would say, or "the love of life." The great delight that comes when the pieces of our particular puzzle finally fit. The heartfelt happiness we derive when something brings us keen pleasure. Something uniquely our own. They used to call this magical something a hobby.

But what to do? The writer Brenda Ueland tells us that our imaginations need "moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering" to flourish. Perhaps we also need a little personal sleuthing to uncover what solitary pleasures might be fun. It's been so long since we consciously set aside time solely for rewarding reveries that many of us can't fathom what to do (except, of course, take a nap) when we have a couple of golden hours in which to answer to no one but ourselves. We lose what little leisure time we have available through attrition.

Today, give in to your need for "moodling." And while you're dawdling and puttering, consider what rewarding reveries you've put aside that brought you pleasure in the past. "How I think about my work is indistinguishable from the way I think about my needlepoint or cooking: here is the project I'm involved in. It is play. In this sense all my life is spent in play - sewing or needlepoint, or picking flowers or writing, or buying groceries," says writer Diane Johnson. Once you commit to bringing more of a sense of play into your daily round with authentic personal pursuits, life will begin to take on a harmonious lilt.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy © 1995


Last week we discussed creativity. Making time or finding the inclination to be creative is difficult in a busy life such as some of us have. Knowing what it is that we want to do is difficult when you are distracted by the busy-ness of everyday living. Many of us have hobbies that we have long since left behind. We might have been passionate about those hobbies at one time, but little by little it has slipped away from us. I saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck that said, "Work is for people that don't fish." That is passion.

I also remember learning somewhere along the way that if you find something to do that you love, and can make a living doing it, you will never work a day in your life. I love what I do for work, and (honestly!) if I were filthy rich, I would do what I do for work without being paid for it. I don't consider what I do work, and I am well paid for doing what I love. Work is something that ennobles mankind - to "earn our daily bread by the sweat of our brow" - it separates us from the animal kingdom, which go through their days doing only that which is necessary for their survival.

And because we are not animals, we should not live our lives as if the only thing we want to do is to survive the day. We are meant to thrive and be happy, for that is why we are conscious, intelligent beings. Whether we love what we do for work or not, one of the most important things we can do to take care of ourselves is to stop doing what we do for work, and do something for fun. Take the time in your life to take up that hobby that you no longer do.. break out the old stamp collection, dust off the power tools and build a cabinet, or simply drop a line in the water and try to drown a worm.

Take the time. Make the time. Do this for yourself, and you will be a better person for others. Now be good, and go play!



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