My friend just celebrated her 70th birthday, and has been retired from her high school teaching position for about five years. But since that time she’s (1) resurrected a choir program at her church; (2) written a classroom guide to integrative concert planning for music teachers; and (3) created a program of arts classes for senior citizens. She is now in the process of starting a local community theater group, and is kicking it off with a musical theater summer camp for middle school students.
Today, I was telling her that I had visited my former office today to pick up some “homework” for next week, and that I was feeling a bit guilty about all the stress my replacement was feeling.
“I still feel guilty about having so much free time,” she told me. “I feel guilty about being able to sit all afternoon and just read, even though that was something I dreamed about having time to do when I was working all those years.”
I laughed, because I feel guilty about reading too – at least during the day. I “allow myself” reading time first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. But to just sit down during the day and read for a while – never do it. I want to do it, but whenever I do, I immediately start thinking about all the other things I should be doing instead. Like laundry, or cooking, or working on my basement cleaning project, or pulling the weeds in the garden, or catching up with friends I’ve neglected, or practicing piano.
I still remember the years when my son was a baby and I was home full time with him – he was a good napper until he was about three years old, and I had long blocks of time each afternoon when he was sleeping. But I was always leery of making noise in the house, so I’d sit and read while he napped. I justified this without feeling guilty because I was making sure I didn’t disturb his nap.
Short of having another baby – which certainly isn’t happening – I don’t have any good reason to just sit and read anymore.
Other than that I want to.
And shouldn’t that be reason enough?
Image above - Getty Images.