July 6th, 2007


Summer and social clutter

I'm one of the only people I know who actually has to brace himself for summer. Gorgeous weather, sunshine, active social calendars—while I recognize all are good things, part of me just wants to hunker down until it's dark and quiet again.

Everyone has motivators. I'm freshly realizing that a big one for me is being done. Usually, that's what I'm after, regardless of whether I'm enjoying the journey or not. That can result in high productivity, but it can equally contribute to laziness, as well as making me an impatient pain in the ass. Summer isn't about being done, so it's a big disconnect for me. I want to push the sun below the horizon and push events off my calendar. But being done isn't always good, and even when it is, it's not really achievable—there's always another thing, and that's really the way things are supposed to be.

Regardless, I'm stressed. This week has only two days without social commitments (and just one day for barlow_girl). Next week has three, but it's not here yet, I've already had to decline another event because we were booked, and I have two more "let's get togethers" pending in my inbox. The following week looks about the same. I joke about simply hating people, but even though that's something to legitimately be on my guard against, it falls flat as a complete explanation of my stress—if these commitments weren't with people I love and enjoy, I'd have batted them aside. Added to the feeling in my gut that tells me "I can't take this" is the question "what are we doing and why?"

We've made what we believe to be good, intentional decisions about spending time with others. But in the big picture, I'm questioning the point. Are we simply sharing meals, stories, and diversions? Is that what we're supposed to fill our lives with? Is there more? If so, what is it and are we getting to it? If not, are we just keeping busy? Honestly, I don't know what we're doing, and thus have no way of gauging how we're doing or how much we should be doing it.

Just as we're trying not to cover every surface of our home with stuff just because it's there, I don't want us to be filling our calendar with social clutter just because it has blank spaces. In order to keep from doing that, we need to know how to distinguish clutter, and in order to do that, we need to know what's valuable and why. As I said, I think we've made some great first steps, and perhaps having done so raises the next set of questions. Once we've engaged with others, what do we want to do?